Purpose-Driven Leadership: Part Two

In part one of this series we shared "The Three Phases of Purpose Driven Leadership". In part two we'll explore the first phase of this unique framework - Discovery.

Phase 1: Discovery

Nearly all employees want to have their work be meaningful, but nearly half believe it is possible. 
At this stage, programs need to address three needs:

  • Desire - Motivation: It is important to me that my work is meaningful.
  • Self-Awareness - Knowing Your Purpose: I know what brings meaning to my work.
  • Belief - Openness to Purpose at Work: I believe it is possible for my work to be meaningful.

1: Desire

Desire reflects our general motivation to find purpose in our work. Leaders that have mastered desire are able to authentically say: "It is important to me that my work is meaningful."

Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.
— Stephen Hawking

2: Self Awareness

Self Awareness reflects our deep understanding of what generates purpose for us as leaders in our work. Leaders with great self awareness can say: "I know what brings meaning to my work."

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
— Mark Twain

3: Belief

Even with desire and awareness of purpose, we can be held back from experiencing it in our work without belief. Belief reflects our openness and confidence in the possibility of experiencing purpose in our work. Leaders that harness this belief can honestly say: "I believe it is possible for my work to be meaningful."

Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.
— Malcolm Gladwell

Phase 1: Development Checklist

  • Vocalisation of desire to have strong relationships, make an impact and grow at work.
  • Articulation of what work would look like if they have strong relationships, a meaningful impact and continuous growth in their work.
  • Employee purpose statement drafted that defines their guiding principles.
  • Identification of key moments in their work thus far that align with their purpose statement.
  • Acceptance that their career goals and purpose are not at odds, but deeply connected. 

In part three of this series we'll explore Phase Two: Activation in detail. Check back soon or register below and we'll let you know when the next post is published. 


Aaron Hurst is a globally recognised social entrepreneur who works to create communities that are empowered to realise their potential. He is the CEO of Imperative, a B Corp advocating for Purpose-Oriented Workers and supporting the organisations that embrace them.

Widely known for his thought leadership, he is the author of The Purpose Economy (2014) and a regular advisor and thought partner for many global brands. He has written for or been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg TV and was named a LinkedIn Influencer. He is the author of Fast Company's Purposeful CEO profile series.

Image Credit: Indiana Jones - Raiders of the Lost Ark. Paramount Pictures. 1981