Purpose-driven leadership

2020, the year of a global pandemic, gave us the jolt of a lifetime. Many of us experienced significant changes in our professional and personal lives. We dealt with losses of loved ones and the scarcity of food and shelter — the most basic human needs.

We also learned a lot and adjusted ourselves and our businesses as the impact of the pandemic continued to unfold. Like many, I took the opportunity to reflect, read and glean insights from my friends and colleagues to deal with the impact.

Many of my questions were centered around the awareness of how to master what we can control, versus trying to control forces outside us. This led me to three insights.

How we respond to a situation is our choice. Michael Singer, author of “An Untethered Soul,” says, “When a problem is disturbing you, don’t ask, ‘What should I do about it?’ Ask, ‘What part of me is being disturbed by this?’”

Reflecting on this insight, I was drawn to philosopher J. Krishnamurti. He practiced a type of meditation where he observed his thoughts with the goal of silencing the mind and having no thought at all, to see things the way they are, sans bias.

I have found this to be hard, yet fruitful and satisfying. It has caused me to slow down my inner negative voice and have clarity on my beliefs and values. It has also helped me focus on the most important things rather than the most urgent.

On many occasions, we are unaware we are making choices, and those choices have consequences. Awareness is key. Taking deep breaths in the heat of the moment is helpful and can be done with consistent practice.

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how.” Wise words from Nietzsche. When I met my wife, Erin, in 2005, I was struck by her life’s purpose. She was crystal clear about her purpose. I wasn’t that fortunate.

It wasn’t until my first child was born that my purpose became clearer. Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search For Meaning” says, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to be happy. Once the reason is found, however, one becomes happy automatically.”

This idea of knowing the “why” applies to business, too. This clarity of purpose should be the framework for all major decisions. Whether it is hiring, investing, research and development, or capital expenditures, all are anchored by the “why” of your organization.

The “why” enhances focus, discipline and consistency, and helps you become a master of your venture, shaping individual and team goals, actions and outcomes. We undertook this exercise at Mace and discovered our why, and now we live it.

There’s a relationship between communication and connection with others. Warren Buffet said, “If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark — nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.”

These strategies can help you communicate effectively to influence the outcomes you desire.

  • Discover others’ values and beliefs when connecting one-on-one.
  • Share your values and beliefs to find common ground to connect.
  • Learn about others’ gifts.
  • Ask team members, life partners or friends how you can help them at the end of a discussion.

Humans are inherently social creatures, making connection an incredible tool in the workplace. In times of COVID-19, these fundamentals have served me and my team to move our collective purpose forward.

Sanjay Singh is executive chairman of the board of directors at Mace Security International