Leader as Meaning Maker

“Happiness and fulfillment do not come from pleasure but from meaning, from pursuit of a noble purpose.”

– Fred Kofman  “Conscious Business”

When’s the last time you thought about your noble purpose?  How are you living this in your work these days?  How are you speaking about how you see your work related to its ultimate noble pursuit – How are you helping others connect to their own versions of this?

Building a team or organization that is connected to its noble purpose sows the seeds of engagement deep within people and weaves it into the fabric of the organization.

Consider the CIO from a Federal Regulatory Agency who regularly asks her staff how their work saves lives?  Sure there are a couple of degrees of separation between a programmer’s code and the inspector who makes sure the meat is safe … but without the system the whole inspection would be compromised.

Or the CEO of a Red Cross blood processing facility who remembers the emergency blood delivery he made many years ago to the neonatal unit at Johns Hopkins to save a baby’s life – and all he could see of the infant was her tiny two inch foot – that foot, years later serves as the symbolic image for why he puts up with the hassles of running a low margin high risk manufacturing operation.

Call it what you will – noble purpose, meaning, connecting to essence or knowing your impact … never underestimate the power of articulating this connection for yourself … and as you go about your business today, speak of this to others and ask them how they connect to the reason why they do what they do, day in and day out, dealing with the dignity and disaster that is the workplace … and notice their reaction, how it shifts their energy – do they smile, look blank or respond cynically… and ask yourself – as a leader, what environment do I want to be creating here?

bob devlin
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