The other day I was at a conference representing my organization and I had a chance to sit down with the key note speaker. This was no ordinary key note speaker. His name was Aaron Hurst who is the CEO of Imperative and author of The Purpose Economy (2014). In talking with Aaron — I made the mistake of calling him Mr. Hurst –, I was able to ask some follow up questions around his presentation and I felt that this was information that I should share with more people than just key stake holders in my organization. During our discussion, Aaron outlined the value of getting everyone in organization to find purpose in their jobs and more importantly to me; he described the role that the manager played in this process (A. Hurst, interview).
In Aaron’s estimation, we have entered into the early stages of the purpose economy (A. Hurst, interview). He points to a greater importance placed on sharing and experiencing with a shift from consumption to creation (A. Hurst, interview). His belief is that the millennial generation will make purpose the top driver in economy (A. Hurst, interview). This looks like employees placing great importance on the local community and giving to others. With this being said, organizations have begun making more inroads in the community, but there are other ways that organizations will need to shift, namely how organizations and their managers create purpose for their employees.
Aaron explained to me that the purpose economy will value more transformational, servant, and situational leadership styles (A. Hurst, interview). The transformational leadership style will be used create a connection that “raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and follower” (Northouse, 2016, p. 162). By using transformational leadership, a manager will be able to help their followers reach their full potential which also helps drive purpose in employees (Northouse, 2016, p. 162). Next, servant leadership will need to be used to have the leader be attentive to the followers needs, “empathize with them, and nurture them” (Northouse, 2016, p.225). By using servant leadership, the leader will be able to empower the follower to develop their full potential (Northouse, 2016, p.225) and create an environment in which purpose in the community can be foster. The last type of leadership that Aaron mentioned was situational leadership. Using the situational leadership approach, a leader could support a follower once the follower found a cause or community event by providing a flexible work schedule, for example. Furthermore, by using these three leadership styles a manager will be able achieve a higher level of awareness toward their employees, treating the leader/follower relationship less like a transaction and more like person to person relationship.
Purpose makes a positive impact on the community, but purpose can also make a positive impact on employees, organizations, and leaders.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Aaron Hurst: The Purpose Economy. (A. Hurst, interview, April 11, 2015).