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3 Key Elements of Purposeful Leadership

Originally published
Originally published: 6/1/2013

Setting  standards, having goals and committing to coaching provide focus and direction


To be a purposeful leader your company must have a clearly defined purpose. All too often command-and-control leadership takes hold and works in the opposite direction of creating an environment, or company culture, where purposeful leadership can flourish.

Just remember: command-and-control leadership always loses out to purposeful leadership in the long run. Command-and-control leadership is limited by what you cannot control.  As your company grows, your ability to maintain micro control becomes even more limited. This is where purposeful leadership becomes invaluable.

Let’s look at the three main elements that make up Purposeful Leadership.


Purposeful leaders set standards, which can be dress codes for office personnel, uniform standards for technicians, installation standards, service call protocol, etc. The list could go on and on, but the point is, you have to be the one to set the acceptable standards in your company. Remember, if you do not set the standards, someone else will. I would even venture to say that, in all organizations, those who hold themselves to the lowest possible standards actually end up setting the standards. It sounds backwards, but it really is true.

The person with the worst uniform, sloppiest install, worst customer service, etc., by default, sets the minimum standard for those around him or her. Like it or not, everyone sees this and makes a mental note that says, “Well, I guess I am better than that, so I must be okay.” Don’t let this happen. Have high standards and let people know them.  You will be amazed at how the vast majority of your people will not only thrive in that environment, but really appreciate it.  You are the gatekeeper of the standards.  What you say is okay is what will be followed. If you say nothing, someone else will set the standard.


Purposeful leaders have goals. Goals are the driving force behind what makes something happen. You have to set company goals, department goals and individual goals if you are going to be a purposeful leader and a purposeful company.

Everyone should show up to work and know what they need to do to help achieve the goal. This can be measured in many ways, but the point is very simple: give people something to shoot for, or they will shoot for nothing. Without goals, people just come to work, do their jobs and go home. People with goals have a purpose for their day and for their careers, which, in turn, creates a purpose-driven culture that achieves results. Set goals at every level in your company so people have something to shoot for.


Purposeful leaders understand the importance of coaching. Coaching takes on many different roles in purposeful leadership, but I think the most important one is accountability. With the correct standards and goals in place, your main job becomes holding people accountable to them. Holding people accountable doesn’t mean you just tell them when something is wrong.  It is imperative that you let them know when they have done something right as well.

Purposeful leaders understand that they must remain balanced in their coaching, offering both correction and encouragement. I am a firm believer that you must adhere to a 5-to-1 ratio. You must give people five praises for every one correction. This accomplishes a couple of different things all at once.

First, you build people’s confidence and build on their successes. Second, you are, in essence, evaluating people’s performances. If you can’t find the 5-to-1 ratio, you probably have the wrong person in the role you are asking them to perform.

Don’t get me wrong with this last point; this doesn’t mean you just sit back, watch and wait. You actively pursue times to meet with them to go over your standards and their goals. You help coach them to better results. Only after you have done this can you start to assess their fit in the role you have them in – not beforehand.

In the end, setting standards, having goals, and committing to coaching gives the purposeful leader focus and direction. You get to come in every day and make a difference, not only in your company, but in the lives of those who work for you. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is watching people grow, both personally and professionally, into someone they never dreamed possible. It is very rewarding to see your purposeful leadership take hold and work.

Wade Mayfield is president of Thermal Services Inc., Omaha, Neb.


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