Career Planning with Purpose

balance benefits of employee engagement definite purpose employee development employee engagement employee purpose engagement harmony importance of work life balance individual purpose leadership purpose leading with a clear purpose organizational purpose professional development purpose driven employees purpose driven organization purpose driven workplace the power of purpose in business Jul 09, 2024
importance of work life balance

When we recognize and understand the purpose that drives each of our team members, and we’ve been able to determine how they’re most interested in working to achieve, the work we can do as leaders to help them in that process can become as rewarding as nearly anything else we do! I don’t know that I’ve seen many who have been willing to earn the authentic influence that is real leadership who hasn’t felt tremendous fulfillment from helping the folks on their teams find a place of harmony while they’re working hard toward a worthwhile goal

Knowing what they want most, as well as the things they’re willing to do to achieve it, gives us a unique opportunity to actively look for the tasks within our areas of responsibility that can stretch our team members and prepare them for the path ahead. To that end, we’ll likely even have times where we see places outside the scope of our own role that could still serve them. While it’s always tough to risk losing a great team member, the best leaders I’ve ever worked with have been far more interested in seeing their people succeed than holding them back to protect their own interest. But notice I was specific in saying “the best leaders I’ve ever worked with” rather than referencing every supervisor or manager I’ve ever known; we’ve all seen our share of the ones trying to run a crew on just the authority that comes with their title who actively work to hold their teams back. That may help keep some skills within the team short term but it certainly doesn’t earn loyalty or that ever so critical discretionary effort long term - and it’s absolutely not leadership!

Here’s where I want you to consider a time in your career where you had something resembling that work/life harmony I’ve referenced a few times here. Now think about the leader you’ve worked for or with who did the most to help you advance or achieve your goals - or maybe even more closer toward your own definite purpose… I can honestly say that I’ve had a few who have done both! The one who comes to mind here was my direct boss for more than a decade. While I learned more about workplace safety from him than anyone else on the planet, that’s just a small piece of how he helped me advance in my career and move toward the purpose that Cindy and I worked on constantly today. In addition to the direct training and mentorship, Kevin was a constant supporter of any outside development I asked about. For the organization to cover the tab, I had to be able to show how it tied in with my role and how I’d apply what I learned but he was just as supportive of me looking into other things - the company just wouldn’t pay for it. 

Not long after I started working for him, we had a conversation where he suggested that I interview for at least one job with another company each year. As probably anyone in their mid 20s would have been, I was a bit startled - and even concerned - to have a boss make such a suggestion. I’m sure he saw that concern on my face because he immediately explained that he definitely didn’t want me to leave but he also didn’t want me to ever be in a situation where I need to start looking for a new position without being prepared and completely comfortable with the process. In the time I reported to him, I quickly saw that he was one of the most humble leaders I had ever known, always making sure I got praise for the work we did together and rarely accepting any of the credit himself. As I look back on that entire experience, I’m forever grateful for all he did to help me succeed. And in complete transparency, the advice about interviewing has served me well ever since - even though I didn’t actually do it once each year like he suggested.

I worked as hard for Kevin as I have in any role I’ve ever been in. I can say with absolute certainty that the steps he took to help me, as his employee, succeed in my role and move forward in my career provided me with as much reason to give every bit of discretionary effort I was capable of - and that support gave me more energy than even the results we achieved through our work.

With that example in mind, I’ll challenge you to consider how you’re currently providing your team members with that kind of support. But don’t worry too much if you’re not because we’ll look at some simple ways to start that process next…