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Make Your Leadership Matter: Five Foundational Questions

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Make Your Leadership Matter: Five Foundational Questions

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Imagine you are a leader full of energy and enthusiasm. Your values are clear, and you lead with principles that ensure you never compromise on integrity.

You feel balanced and centered, with a keen sense of your life’s purpose and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish as a leader.

Your team is more than just a group of individuals working together. They are a united force, inspired to reach for a shared future vision.

Does this description match how you experience your leadership or seem like a fantasy too good to be true?

Too often, our world revolves around cut-throat competition and financial gain. No wonder so many lose sight of what truly matters, and that is leading with purpose and character.

You can find new energy and momentum for your work by resetting your leadership.

You can start down a path toward leadership that matters by considering five foundational questions.

Question #1: What is Your Personal Purpose?

Your personal life purpose is critical to your leadership. Why? Because your life purpose is at the root of your character. And character matters.

More than skills or a formal position of power, your purpose and character define your leadership.

Your purpose is unique to you. Perhaps it is about using your talents to help others thrive. Or it could be about offering support to those who are vulnerable. Your purpose might involve applying your creativity to find breakthroughs in complex problems.

Your purpose can be anything that resonates with you. And it is unlikely to remain the same over time. It will evolve as you grow.

While your purpose isn’t the only thing you care about, it is the core of who you are and what you are about.

Ask yourself what kind of person you want to become. And how would you hope others regard you?

Nick Craig and Scott Snook discuss purpose in their article From Purpose to Impact. They say, ” It is not what you think you should be. It’s who you can’t help being.”

Question #2: What is Your Leadership Story?

Everybody has a story to tell. And your story will center you and inspire others.

To develop your leadership story, look back at where you have been and how you arrived at where you are today. Recall why you wanted to be a leader in the first place. Reflect on how these events shaped your character.

Can you describe in vivid detail the decision points you faced and conflicts you had to resolve to become the leader you are currently?

Your story will be inspirational. It should reinvigorate your leadership and serve as a touchpoint for envisioning the leader you want to become.

Question #3: What is Your Leadership Purpose?

Once you attain clarity on your personal life purpose and have a story that energizes your next step is identifying your leadership purpose.

The best way to get started on nailing your leadership purpose is to reflect on your life story that led you to where you are today. What are the implications for your current leadership, and why it matters?

Think about what you are most proud of in your leadership experiences. Identify what has excited you most about leadership over the years.

Through these reflections, your leadership purpose will emerge.

You may center on changing the world or focus on community and family. Or you may find purpose in helping others to grow and develop in the workplace. Perhaps you will commit to embracing learning and change and helping others do the same.

Your leadership purpose should encompass what is unique, exciting and essential to you.

Question #4: What are Your Values?

Once you land on an inspiring leadership purpose, your next step is identifying your supporting values.

Values are the internal beliefs or standards you consider critical or worthwhile to your work and life. They represent what you care about most.

Values are the core of your leadership. They make pursuing your purpose straightforward. Values help you determine right from wrong. They guide your daily decisions.

You will likely feel satisfied and content when leading based on what you care about most. On the other hand, if your leadership is not aligned with your values, you are likely to feel unbalanced.

Most likely, you have a long list of values. Pick out three or four that are most significant to you. Enable these values to serve as your internal guide.

Declaring what you care about most enables you to live and lead with intention.

Question # 5: What are Your Principles?

While values are internal beliefs, principles are the external rules you create to carry those values into everyday behaviors.

Your principles guide what you will and won’t do.

For example, if honesty is one of your most significant values, you might adopt the code of always telling the truth as you see it. You might also commit to never withholding information to protect your power.

The principles you craft to live your values are distinctive to you. When you lead intentionally guided by your principles, others will see that your values are not merely empty words. They will be more likely to trust you.


Leading with meaning is about more than achieving goals and delivering results. It is about clarifying your purpose as a leader. It requires developing a deep understanding of your values and a commitment to aligning your actions with them.

As you consider the five foundational questions, you are preparing yourself to embrace leadership that matters.

However, remember that leading with meaning is not a one-time effort but an ongoing journey that requires constant reflection and adaptation. As you travel down this path, you will have renewed enthusiasm for your leadership and increased confidence to make a difference.

Live more and lead better through purpose, values and principles.

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