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Your job as a leader isn’t just about making the business more money.

You need to look beyond the organization to see how the work you are doing is impacting society, local communities, and even the world.

I had the opportunity to speak with Paul Polman (the former CEO of Unilever) for my new book, The Future Leader. One of the things he told me when I asked him about leadership was…

“Leaders must find a way to reconnect with citizens and restore confidence in a reformed economic and social system that is more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.”

This means that you need to care…really care.

But simply telling leaders to “care more” doesn’t meant that they will.

From the hundreds of CEOs and business leaders I have interviewed and worked with, I have identified 5 common qualities that purpose driven and caring leaders have, which you can see in the image below.

❤️ They spend most of their time outside their office.

Purpose-driven and caring leaders engage with customers but also with employees at all levels of the organization, not just with their peers, this also includes front-line employees. It’s crucial to get out of the proverbial “ivory tower” to understand what is happening on the ground floor of the business and in the lives of the people who work there.

❤️ They practice empathy and self-awareness.

Purpose-driven and caring leaders put themselves in the shoes of their employees and try to feel what they feel, this is what empathy is all about. Sympathy on the other hand is simply the act of telling other people “I’m sorry.”They are always aware of the impact that they have on others, their own strengths and weaknesses, and how others perceive them.

❤️ They have a cause that they fight for.

Purpose-driven and caring leaders have a cause they fight for that extends beyond the business. It could be something climate change, diversity and equality, refugees, served the underrepresented, helping end poverty, or working with underprivileged children. As leaders, they understand that part of their responsibility is to help make the world a better place.

❤️ They see their employees as human beings.

Purpose-driven and caring leaders understand that their employees aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, they aren’t cogs, they aren’t job descriptions — they are people, just like you and me. People with hopes, dreams, passions, fears, and families. These leaders make sure to get know their employees as human beings not just as workers.

❤️ They realize that being purpose-driven and caring is a choice that only they can make.

Purpose-driven and caring leaders understand that looking out for others and caring for those around them is a choice. It’s not something that is justified on a spread-sheet or via a financial analysis. Viktor E. Frankl, the author of the profound book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” wrote…

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to chose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

As a leader you are responsible and accountable for the choices you make, and it’s up to you alone to make the right one.

How many of these 5 qualities do you and your leaders possess?


If you enjoyed the article and want more content like this here’s what you can do:

  1. Subscribe to The Future of Work Podcast where I interview business leaders around the world each week.
  2. Grab a copy of The Future Leader which has been endorsed by the CEOs of MasterCard, Best Buy, Oracle, Audi, Unilever, Domino’s Pizza, Ritz Carlton, Kaiser, and Marshall Goldsmith. It explores the most essential skills and mindsets for future leaders.
  3. If you are or want to be an entrepreneur then my wife and I just launched a brand new podcast on how to Be Your Own Boss, called the BYOB Podcast where we share what we did and how we did it. You can subscribe to that here.