No matter the size of the business, purpose-driven leadership should be emphasized throughout the organization. The CEO is the usher and convening leader to keep the “guiding ideas” (such as the mission, ideal business vision, values, and goals) present, and stay committed at all times with executive toughness and discipline.

Purpose-driven leadership follows these principles:

  • Members of the leadership team know, agree on and are passionate about the reason that the organization exists.

  • The leadership team has clarified and embraced a small, specific set of behavioral values.

  • Leaders are clear and aligned around a strategy that helps them define success and differentiate from competitors.

  • The leadership team has a clear, current goal around which they rally. They feel a collective sense of ownership for that goal.

  • Members of the leadership team understand one another’s roles and responsibilities. They are comfortable asking questions about one another’s work.

  • The elements of the organization’s clarity are concisely summarized and regularly referenced and reviewed by the leadership team.

  • Tactical and strategic discussions are addressed in separate meetings.

  • During tactical staff meetings, agendas are set only after the team has reviewed its progress against goals. Noncritical administrative topics are easily discarded.

  • During topical meetings, enough time is allocated to major issues to allow for clarification, debate, and resolution.

  • The team meets quarterly away from the office to review what is happening in the industry, in the organization, and on the team.

  • The leadership team cascades the business vision into performance objectives for each direct report in the organization to fulfill priority outcomes that the business seeks to create.

  • The management team reinforces accomplishments, behaviors, and mindsets that align with the business vision and primary aim.

  • The current reality of the business vision is the basis from which the conditions for learning and capacity-building prevail as a competitive advantage.

All the negative preparations are structures with contingency plans and fail safes for avoiding the Titanic effect. Problems will surface, and it’s the CEO’s job to address them early by thinking through work-arounds with a productive type of upstream paranoia. 

This is different than pessimism. Instead, planning and failure avoidance reduce the fear instinct in the present, and allow leaders to navigate problems with a learning mentality. Having to get things right the first time inspires fear. Second chances inspire more risk taking, which leads to more action, more feedback, and greater capacity for adaptability and agility-based decisions that create a better, alternative future.