Posted by: A.R. Cherian | November 19, 2009

Loyalty to the organizational purpose

Last week in class, we continued our series on leadership. One concept that the professor explained that really resonated strongly with me was the idea of Purposeful Leaders and Purposeful Followers.  In my last blog post, I had wrote that it is crucial to define your company’s purpose (why you do what you do). Whether you are in government, for-profit, or not-for-profit organizations, you should always strive to define the purpose.

Once you define the purpose and your employees understand and see the purpose in their day-to-day functions, then you can create an environment where leaders and followers can have loyalty to the purpose. The radical notion that I learned in class was this:

The only thing you should be loyal to is the purpose

This is where a lot of companies stray. They create cultures of people being loyal to a person, instead of loyalty to a purpose.

As a leader:

Understand your organization’s purpose and do the right things at the opportune times to follow that purpose. Be a purposeful leader. Think of leadership as a service to that purpose and not as privilege and prestige for yourself.

As a follower:

Understand your organization’s purpose and be loyal to that purpose. Find and follow purposeful leaders who are also loyal to that purpose. If a leader is a purposeful leader, then you should follow this purposeful leader. If the leader strays from the purpose, then you as a follower should try to bring them back on-track to the purpose.

This concept is described in-depth in Ira Chaleff’s iconoclastic book – “The Courageous Follower” (which I have to add to my to-read list).   What a great concept. I’m glad I learned about it and now I can be vigilant whether I am a leader or a follower to not stray from my organization’s purpose.


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