The most effective leaders all share the same priority.
Every single one.
It doesn’t matter where they are in their business journey. It doesn’t matter what their industry is, what their goals are, or how many people report to them.
They are all leading happy, effective teams because they are centering one thing in their approach to leadership:
Effective leaders are driven by whatever purpose fills them with joy and makes them feel whole. They see their work and professional relationships as opportunities to do their own kind of good in the world.
To be clear, this is more than a feel-good tip for a happy life. People who lead with a sense of purpose and focus on building meaningful relationships see more innovation, proactive effort and collaboration from their team.
Your Joy is Contagious
The concept of “success” is very simple for us business owners, right? The more money we bring in, the more we have succeeded at the job of running a business.
Understandably, we get hung up on this measure of success. We tend to lead from the philosophy that our primary goal — and therefore our team’s primary goal — is to rake in the bucks.
While it is absolutely true that we can and should keep tracking our revenue and aiming higher, we will never find real happiness in money. Once our basic needs are met, the satisfaction we gain from money drops off significantly.
What can bring us joy is the knowledge that what we do means something. We’re contributing something, making the world better or making life easier for others.
Now, here’s what that has to do with leadership:
When you are able to approach each day with a spirit of excitement, curiosity and joy, you make your workplace a place of happiness and possibility. Your team notices. They feel your energy. Your energy inspires them to see their jobs through the lens of excitement and abundance.
Simply put, happiness promotes positive thinking. Challenges become opportunities. Weaknesses inspire innovation. Your employees start to see the potential within themselves and they look for the best in one another.
You especially see the benefits of this when your team interacts with clients. When your clients see the joy that characterizes your entire organization, they feel drawn to work with you and refer you to others.
They want what you have.
Your Sense of Purpose is Contagious
When you approach your work from the perspective of purpose, you have a clearer grasp on how your business improves the world around you. You become better at communicating that concept to your team. And when your team sees the purpose in the work, guess what?
They start working for more than just money, too.
That doesn’t mean they care less about being compensated fairly. But it does mean you as a leader get to stop battling that “run out the clock” mentality. It means your employees genuinely care about getting results, because those results hold meaning.
It also means they’re more interested in being supportive to the customer, their colleagues and you. They find more satisfaction in their jobs and develop a deeper sense of loyalty to the mission.
Big wins all around.
Your Relationships Carry Meaning
This one is deeply personal for me.
Living a fulfilling life means building meaningful relationships. And if you want to find fulfillment in your work, your professional relationships must also be meaningful.
I was warned against this when I started out as a business owner. I tend to care a lot about the people who are in my life, whether it’s my personal life or my professional life. Those who knew me well saw this as a potential pitfall. They were afraid I’d get attached to people who would move on for a bigger paycheck. They worried I’d give too much to partners and employees who were only looking out for themselves.
At the heart of all this advice was the same message: Business is an “every person for themselves” game.
I have learned that it’s a choice. There absolutely are people in the business world who will only look out for themselves and their bank accounts. But you don’t have to work with them.
The people on my team are on my team because of who they are. It’s the same story with our franchisees. At 911 Restoration, our focus has always been on building a community of mission-driven, whole-hearted, collaborative superstars.
And because I have surrounded myself with people like that, my ability to build meaningful relationships has been my greatest asset as a leader.
When people feel cared for, they give you their best.
Nailing Down What Fulfillment Looks Like for You
I know, I know … this all sounds nice, but what are you actually supposed to do? How do you put these abstract concepts to work in your own business?
If you haven’t already, define what it is about your work that makes you feel fulfilled. When do you feel most like you’re making a positive impact on the world? When are you the most proud of yourself or your team?
For a lot of us in restoration, the answer is clear. Our businesses exist to be the answer for property owners in times of crisis. But you might also find fulfillment in the fact that your business is a source of financial stability and personal fulfillment for your employees. Or you might enjoy the fact that your job puts you in personal contact with more members of your community so you can understand and meet their needs better.
Write down what really matters to you — what you want your legacy to be, not just as a business owner, but as a human being.
Practice making a few decisions where you put that deeper mission above your financial goals.
You don’t have to put your business in financial jeopardy to do this. It can be as simple as losing profits on one job to serve a client who is struggling financially. Or contributing time or resources to a charity you care about. Or being more generous with maternity or paternity leave.
Schedule time to connect with the human beings who make up your team. This could be one-on-one meetings, a company barbecue or a volunteer day.
However you choose to connect with them, make an effort to know who they are beyond the role they play in your business. What are their goals? What does fulfillment mean to them? How can you support them in becoming the people they want to be?
As a business owner, you have to keep your eyes on the numbers. But as a leader, the most powerful choice you can make is to put joy first.
Your customer’s joy. Your team’s joy. And above all, your own joy.
Because a fulfilled leader is an effective leader.
Be true. Be you. Be great