“The key challenge for business is how do we get more purpose-driven leaders that realise they are there to make a difference in the world”, said Bill George of Harvard Business School at The World Economic Forum, which took place in Davos again this year.
“The pressures are greater today than they’ve ever been on CEOs to produce short-term results but it’s really not about that. It’ about having a company that’s going to solve actual social problems through the work the company does and that requires a company with commitment to purpose throughout the entire organisation.”
In a highly globalised world we live in today facing numerous challenges, purpose is what unites people to work towards a common future. To have purpose is to give meaning to the goals we are striving to achieve together. Purposeful and meaningful work is becoming more and more important worldwide. According to Youth Speak, the global millennial insight survey, young people rated meaningful work as the 2nd most important factor in the first 5 years of their career.
Additionally, 72% of Youth Speak respondents believe that it is important for companies to positively impact society. Although the definition of “positive impact” varies, data shows that Generation Y demands companies to have meaningful contribution to society and not solely generate profit without purpose.
Many companies worldwide recognize the significance of meaningful contribution to issues that affect society today. A PR Newswire article highlights the findings of the global research, which was launched at The World Economic Forum by Ernst & Young and Oxford. One of the findings states “Corporate leaders see the organization’s role evolving to address global challenges, taking an active role in creating well-being and value for and with a wider set of stakeholders.”
However, the findings also show that while businesses recognize the importance of purpose for driving core strategies and operations, they also “acknowledge there is a gap between this recognition and the policy and practice in their organizations.” (source)
Therefore, we are back to the question posed by Mr. Bill George of Harvard Business School:
How do we get more purpose-driven leaders who can act on the purpose?
AIESEC, the world’s largest student organization, believes the answer lies in providing young people with practical leadership experiences. By engaging in a challenging environment designed to test them, push them and shape them, young people are given the chance to try and the freedom to fail.
Learning by doing leaves the most powerful impact and allows first-hand discovery of what you are good at, what you are not good at and what really matters to you. Self-awareness developed by learning through trial and error is a first step to realizing your own potential and your unique contribution to the world.
So do you know how can you contribute?
Thinking in terms of contribution is crucial for developing purposeful leaders – the ones who see the bigger picture and understand the importance of meaningful contribution to building a better world.
Developing more purpose-driven leaders is a step towards building a more sustainable future.