Purposeful Leaders Shown to Elevate Workplace

Workers are happier and more productive when their managers show strong morals, a clear vision and a commitment to stakeholders, according to a new study from the U.K.

When managers display these “purposeful behaviors,” employees are less likely to quit, are more satisfied, willing to go the extra mile, better performers and less cynical, according to researchers at the University of Sussex, the University of Greenwich, the IPA and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development or CIPD, the professional body in the U.K. for HR and people development.

“Our study shows that the modern workplace is as much a battle for hearts and minds as it is one of rules and duties,” said Professor Catherine Bailey at the University of Sussex.

“People increasingly expect an organizational purpose that goes beyond a mere focus on the bottom line, beyond the kind of short-termist, financial imperatives that are blamed by many for causing the 2008 recession. In turn, they respond to leaders who care not just about themselves but wider society, who have strong morals and ethics, and who behave with purpose,” she said.

The research found that just one in five U.K. bosses describes themselves as a purposeful leader, highlighting a largely untapped opportunity for modern organizations to improve performance by reshaping the role of managers, according to the researchers.

The researchers suggest that there is much that organizations can do to foster purposeful and ethical leadership, including the adoption of relevant policies, leader role-modeling, alignment around a core vision, training and development, and organizational culture.

“If organizations are serious about acting on the rhetoric of business purpose, and are to invest in achievement of their purpose, they have to reconsider the ways they select, develop and assess leaders,” said Dr. Amanda Shantz at the University of Greenwich. “The traditional focus on leader behaviors only goes so far as to develop their ability to perform in a role. Instead, what is required is a development of the whole person, while accepting that it is impossible to mold all individuals into a uniform model of morals and ethics.

“The real challenge is not in trying to achieve perfect match between leaders’ and organizational values, but in ensuring that they complement each other in ways that best suit organizational circumstances at a given time. This includes supporting leaders to successfully recognize and negotiate the differences between what they stand for and what the business intends to achieve, without detriment to the individual leader or the company’s operations,” she concluded.

Source: University of Sussex