Having a strong sense of purpose is necessary for any leader. Before a leader can lead an organization with purpose, she needs to know and articulate her personal sense of purpose. A leader who is able to articulate and identify her mission in life is taking a most important first step in leading others; she is leading herself — with character. A leader who has defined who she is and what principles and values she represents will be able to understand and lead her organization more effectively.

One’s sense of purpose is the foundation for an individual leader’s ability to inspire and influence an organization’s members.

More than just giving direction or defining goals and expectations for an organization, living one’s sense of purpose can generate passion and energy and can lead to creative identification of new possibilities.

A sense of purpose gives direction. As personal sense of purpose leads and guides all that a leader does. Purpose helps leaders give guidance by answering the question: “Why are we doing this?” Once someone understands the “why,”a leader can set the trajectory for the organizations’ present and future activities.

A sense of purpose defines goals and expectations for an organization. When a leader’s personal sense of purpose is aligned with the organization’s purpose, she is better prepared to communicate goals and expectations for her employees. If people are clear about the overall purpose for the organization, they can begin to understand how their job roles and responsibilities relate to that purpose.

A sense of purpose generates passion and energy. Without a sense of purpose, people have no focus for their energy and enthusiasm. A sense of purpose is important on both an organizational and personal level. Although it is important for leaders to define a purpose for the organization, it is also important for individuals within the organization to assume ownership of the purpose. In addition, an organization is strengthened by individuals who allow their personal values and purpose to charge their work with intensity and energy.

A sense of purpose leads to creative identification of new possibilities. When people are working toward a common goal, setbacks and roadblocks are inevitable. These challenges, however, can be overcome through brainstorming and creative problem solving when driven by a personal and organizational sense of purpose.

Leading self with character must include living with a sense of purpose for one’s life and work. Each leader develops his sense of purpose throughout life as all his past experiences and education inform his perspective. Reflecting on these experiences can help a leader to solidify his priorities and define his personal mission and purpose. With a personal sense of purpose in place, he will be prepared to lead others more effectively.

This post continues a series informed by the Leadership Principles from Mountain State University’s School of Leadership and Professional Development. Read the other posts:

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.