There is no doubt that we need purpose in our work, or that purpose is the driving force for so much of the positive change we are seeing seep into the corporate world, but is purpose alone enough to turn around the organisations of the future? Mimi Nicklin finds out
As we came out of 2021, there was much talk of a need for new purpose-led thinking built on post pandemic social and ethical approaches to our working world. However, as our business world continues to face turmoil, war, and socio-political crises in nearly every market, our leaders today face an ongoing cycle of unexpected challenges that purpose alone cannot lead us out of. In a business context brimming with organisational complexities, there is now a far deeper need for leaders to embrace, and that is the need to understand not just the ‘why’ of their brands, but the ‘why’ of their people.
As we head into the second half of 2022, it will be our ability, as leaders, to embed an approach of regenerating our workplaces and teams with empathy and connectivity, that will build the resilience and tenacity needed to deliver on the intangible purpose that we are all so committed to manifesting. We will no longer be able to separate our working ‘employees’ from the ‘humans’ they are in their personal capacity and nor will we be able to separate our business purpose from that of the teams bringing this purpose to life. As leaders it will be our ability to recognise, empathise and systemise the context our teams’ work within, and their individual driving force in today’s corporate environment, that will maintain the motivation, organisation, and processes that our people need to reach the business vision we are rallying behind.
Today we face the critical need to understand, and relate to, the changing realities of our workforce beyond those facing our businesses. Whether these are social, political, or emotional, they reach well beyond the walls of our offices (or home offices) and demand our leadership teams to focus on regenerative direction that goes beyond the rational and connects with people on a far more authentic and motivating level. A level that recognises the context beyond the corporate content and sees beyond the brand purpose to our people’s purpose.
As the gap between ‘the top’ and ‘the base’ organisationally becomes ever tighter, there is a need for leaders to truly understand their teams beyond the output that they create, to really empathise with who they are and where they are going with their careers. How can you expect these valued team members to commit to your organisational purpose, if you don’t first commit to theirs?
Regenerative leadership skills are focused on transforming and regenerating people and their organisational context by emotionally engaging with the key inputs they need to thrive as human beings. This is leadership that is transformational in its ability to prepare teams for a new world of commerce and change, for hybrid working, flexible formats, purpose-led goal setting, and cohesive sustainable agendas. These are tenets that recent times have proven to be more valid and more current than ever before. As we navigate a new era, it will be this organisational empathetic influence that will be recognised as the most desired facets of inspirational and impactful leadership of our times.
Regenerative leaders today acknowledge that the values their workforce resonate with personally are as critical as the values of the brand’s they are building. Teams are looking for leaders who connect with their own emotional value – their soul as well as their role, their purpose beyond their position. If we lose out on this empathic connection with our employees, we lose out on the people protecting the shareholder value, and the brand purpose story, that we all so dearly desire.
For a large number of leaders today, many of whom were trained in a previous era of leadership thinking, this move to more emotionally intelligent, empathetically influenced, and regeneratively-led business is infinitely difficult to grasp. When you have the same conversation with a millennial leader, however, they understand intrinsically that this move is not an option, it is what 21st century business, and certainly business post 2021, is already poised to be founded on.
So yes, ‘purpose’ is a buzzword that is here to stay, but regenerative leadership is the organisational catalyst we need for the delivery of this purpose system-wide. After all, purpose is driven by people and without their engagement and sustained motivation, we have very little chance of success.
Mimi Nicklin is the internationally bestselling author of the leadership book Softening The Edge, the Founder of the world’s first organisational empathy platform, Empathy Everywhere, and the host of the top 5 ranked podcast ‘The Empathy for Breakfast Show’. She is an experienced creative strategist and the CEO of global ad agency, Freedm, headquartered in Dubai.
She is a well-known organisational consultant, and a keynote speaker, contributor and advocate for the global movement to balance humanism and capitalism in our workplaces and societies. Mimi’s first leadership book was a bestseller before it even reached the stores. You can find out more about Mimi on her website www.empathyeverywhere.co, via Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn @miminicklin or on podcast streaming on all major platforms. Her book is available in physical, e-book and audio book formats on Amazon and across all leading platforms and stores nationwide.