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Find your purpose! Then, inspire your team to find theirs!

Not a day goes by without encountering a blog, an article or a book by a consultant making a career out of encouraging others to find their purpose as a path to great leadership.

Although this kind of support resonates deeply, especially in a world that often seems to forget what it means to be human, these intentions aren’t always successful. In other words, why isn’t everyone running an amazing business full of highly-motivated people simultaneously generating phenomenal profits?

Employee Engagement: The Dispiriting Facts

Recent research shows a major lack of employee engagement, namely that:

  • 85% of employees are not engaged in the workplace, which means that the vast majority: 1) view the workplace negatively or 2) are doing the absolute minimum just to get through the day

  • 70% of employees are dissatisfied with their current career options

  • 81% of employees would consider leaving their job if they got the right offer

  • Over half of professionals leaving their jobs cite company culture or boredom as factors

  • 91% of employees believe their leaders lack communication skills

  • Between hiring, rehiring and poor productivity, low engagement costs companies millions of dollars every year

The Work Myth

The myth that work defines our sense of identity, belonging, meaning and purpose is completely our doing, of course. We’re also responsible for continuing to perpetuate the conditions for our subsequent dissatisfaction.

Through the Coronavirus pandemic, however, we’ve begun to recognize that the “work is life” narrative does not hold true for everyone—maybe not even ourselves. We’ve understood that some people work just to feed their kids and have a roof above their heads, period.

Thinking otherwise undermines the other aspects of our human condition that don’t relate to a company vision. Telling unengaged employees to derive their sense of well-being from “becoming the #1 provider of indoor cabinets” or “delivering high-value services in the b2c virtual coffee delivery space” comes off as absurd at best, patronizing at worst.

We’re Not All Wired the Same Way. That’s a Good Thing.

The biggest mistake I see leaders make is believing that others are wired the same way. The second biggest mistake? Judging them if they’re not.

The people I coach are—by definition, position and title—highly-motivated, competitive, ambitious, intelligent, hard-working and inspirational. They typically gravitate to, and belong at, the top of an organization.

Great leadership, though, requires imagining what the world feels like in their colleagues’ shoes and looks like through their eyes. Great leaders understand that money, title and power aren’t the only motivators and that factors like family time, a positive company culture, flexibility, connections with colleagues or sometimes simply knowing a job has been done well, might be.

Six Simple Solutions to Encourage Employee Engagement

1. Keep your team intellectually stimulated. Employees who find their jobs fulfilling are likely to be more committed.

2. Give them the recognition and appreciation they deserve. The greatest ways to help employees succeed are recognizing what they’ve done and appreciating who they are.

3. Ensure that your team has a clear career path and support along the way. Organizations who provide their employees with the tools to do their jobs are about 20% more productive and 20% more profitable than those who don’t.

4. Communicate effectively and transparently. Studies show that a good company culture can increase revenue by up to 4x.

5. Take care of your team. Leaders build community. It is an essential part of the role.

6. Understand other motivators. Take the time to listen, hear and understand other people’s motivations, drivers, values and indicators of success. They may not be the same as your own, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.

If you want to find your own purpose, that’s fantastic! The journey can be meaningful and impactful to you, your team, your organization and the world at large. And there are plenty of people, including me, who can help you do that.

However, recognizing that others are not necessarily driven, motivated or inspired by your particular purpose can be a supercharging catalyst towards success.

Jamie Ramsden is a certified executive leadership coach and founder of Adastra Consulting ( A former Chief Executive, Jamie has been coaching C-Suite and Senior executives around the world for over fifteen years.

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