Let Purpose Guide Your Leadership Style

According to Cynthia A. Montgomery‘s article in the Harvard Business Review, a business must have a clear sense of purpose that adds value to the firm and its services. Montgomery quotes John Browne’s 1997 HBV article by stating that:

If the purpose is not crystal clear, people in the business will not understand what kind of knowledge is critical and what they have to learn in order to improve performance.”

This quote reminds me of an experience I had with a small nonprofit, wherein the president’s vision and purpose were unclear. Although the president constantly demanded that the program team produce products to support program development and delivery, the purpose of the requested products was forever vague or underdeveloped—there was no strategy. Everyone on the team experienced some level of difficulty understanding, researching, and producing concepts and products that would improve program delivery and performance because the vision of our leader was neither easy to grasp nor act upon.

Montgomery suggests that firms utilize a compelling organizational purpose that is “easy to grasp and true to a company’s distinctiveness.” She goes on to emphasize that, “purpose aligns all the functional pieces and draws the company into a logically consistent whole.”

You can tell that Montgomery considers identifying an organization’s purpose to be a very serious matter, since she dubs it the “corporate equivalent to soul-searching” and urges organizational leaders to take the time to assess just how “clear” their organization’s purpose is.

As I consider my professional experiences with nonprofit organizations and small businesses in the Philadelphia area, I find that one will always compare and contrast the managerial styles of the leaders you work with. Some leadership styles will serve as a learning experience, and others will provide you with the intellectual tools to develop your own managerial style.

Montgomery’s article moved me to reconsider whether or not my own managerial style reduces potential conflicts and miscommunication and reassess how I can improve it so that I provide my co-workers and clients with clear strategies they can use as a guide and work effectively with or under me.

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Yasheaka Oakley

With years of experience in the higher education and nonprofit sectors, Yasheaka Oakley is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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