What Does Leadership For A Better Tomorrow Mean?

June 26, 2024

Nigel Girling

Head of Professional Qualifications
A person looking toward a beautiful sky
NB: This is a companion blog to Why Do We Need Leadership for a Better Tomorrow – you may want to read that first.

If you truly have a sense of purpose that extends beyond the traditional revenue-based intentions of business, then everything that happens in the organization at every level needs to reflect that purpose. This is not an easy or simple thing and requires reconsideration of many key facets of your thinking and activities.

Here are just a few:

1) Organizations that believe in creating a better tomorrow focus constantly on developing and supporting leaders

• …who understand that producing returns for shareholders is no longer enough
• …who want to deliver something that is for the greater good
• …who want to put in more than they take out
• …who want to leave the world in a better state than they found it
• …who want to serve their people and ALL their stakeholders to the best of their abilities, not just the chosen few
• …who want to keep developing themselves to continually improve everything they do and the outcomes they deliver
• …who shape everything they do, say and cause to happen to serve the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity – to create a better tomorrow.

Easy enough to say, but to actually achieve that takes a new way of defining the role and of the sort of character, skills and mindset that such leaders need. How many of your current leader cohort have those capabilities? What will you do to enhance this?

However: Leadership for a better tomorrow is not just about individual leaders doing their bit – though that is a fundamental necessity – and that’s where our second facet comes in.

2) Organizations that believe in creating a better tomorrow define and measure success and performance differently.

Here are some of them:

Goals, Key Performance Indicators and Strategic Plans – need to focus on all three aspects of the triple bottom line (TBL) – people, planet and prosperity – , not just the ones relating to revenue or markets.

• How is the organization planning to give back more than it puts in?
• How is it planning to have a positive impact on the world around it?
• What are the top-level KPIs and do they cover all the TBL areas?
• How are appropriate goals set for leaders and teams, to cascade the plans?
• How are top leaders speaking about the plans to demonstrate that they really mean it?

This can’t just be about making the right noises or a bit of PR – it’s too late for that and the customers, market and employees will see through it very quickly. Token gestures will do more harm than good to your public image and reputation.

People – and the media – are very alert to the idea of ‘purpose-washing’, where organizations try to look as though they care about their impact on society, while actually continuing to behave as they did 20 years ago, setting financial targets and dishing out rewards to those who deliver them.

Performance Management – and expectations of leaders & managers, will typically need to be re-evaluated:

• How are they being tasked with delivering the purpose?
• How is that purpose defined and measured in ways that they and their teams can affect?
• How do their efforts, and the performance of the areas they lead, have an impact on the various facets of the purpose – including the TBL?

It won’t be enough to simply judge performance against numerical, primarily revenue-related, targets. The issues of purpose are qualitative in nature, requiring a more sophisticated and comprehensive understanding of the nature of ‘performance’. Leaders and teams have an impact on every aspect of an organization, shaping what the organization ‘is’ as well as what it ‘does’.

Culture and MoraleA body of research shows that a large proportion of employees are motivated to have an impact on issues such as climate change, equity in society and their local communities – all issues that should be affected by, and encompassed within, your purpose. The research also indicates that talented people are attracted to organizations with a wider purpose around such issues, more likely to be fully engaged with their work and more likely to be positive advocates for their organization.

Conversely, research shows that those organizations which focus primarily on generating returns for shareholders and hitting revenue-related targets are becoming less and less attractive to employees, especially those rising stars from Gen Z and Millennial generations.

The culture of an organization and morale of its people are both directly affected and shaped by the degree to which people identify with the organization’s purpose and see it as aligned with their own values. Such organizations not only attract more talent but are also far more likely to retain it and to reap the benefits of that talent. The culture of such organizations is typically positive, creative, innovative and collaborative. All aspects of contemporary culture that everyone wants, but that is typically only achieved by organizations that have aligned and engaged their people in doing work which they see as having a positive impact on the world.

Structures and Teams – will typically have been designed and engineered to deliver a different set of goals. The way the organization functions may not be ideally suited to delivering the purpose. This needs careful consideration and requires leaders to be mindful of maintaining and enhancing the relationships across the organization which deliver its outcomes. Making structural changes from a logistical and process performance, without considering the human impacts and maintaining those important relationships, can be very damaging to morale, engagement and performance. It must be thought through and people must be involved and consulted.

Job Roles – may need to be adapted to encompass the purpose and to reflect the changes in emphasis required. This relates directly to the points about goal setting and performance management. Their must be a line of sight through all of these to the purpose.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of areas to consider and every organization will have many additional things to consider, but it is a great place to start.

We can help you and your organization become more purpose-driven, and reap the benefits of a purpose-led culture.

Get in touch using the form below.



Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

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IDG House Royal Berkshire Hotel London Road Ascot SL5 0PP UK
+44 (0) 207 798 2848

IDG India
301, Tower 2, Montreal Business Center Baner Road Pune 411045 India
+91 955 271 5800

IDG Middle East
5th Floor One Business Centre DMCC, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai UAE
+44 (0) 1276 686644