We know very little about what purposeful leadership means in practice. Ksenia Zheltoukhova tackles this issue in our video, defining purposeful leadership 'as the extent to which a leader has a strong moral self, a vision for his or her team, and takes an ethical approach to leadership marked by a commitment to stakeholders'.

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Ksenia Zheltoukhova

CIPD: What is purposeful leadership?

Ksenia Zheltoukhova: Although there is a lot of debate on how leaders ought to be in organisations and in particular in the context of purposeful organisations, that leaders must be purposeful as well, we in fact know very little about what this means in practice and so we did some research and one of our objectives was to define the concept of ‘purposeful leadership’.  When we set out to do this we looked at existing literature and we thought what related concepts or ideas could support purposeful leadership.

When you think about it purpose is a broad thing and one of the immediate thoughts that we had is that it is linked to the idea of vision, so leaders have a particular goal and a particular objective that they want to move towards and they want to move their organisation towards. However its not just any vision that is good for having a purpose because implicitly purpose is ethical or moral so when you are moving towards a purpose you assume that this purpose is good or positive and so in addition to the concept of vision we included two other constructs in the idea of purposeful leadership. One of them was to do with the leader’s own moral values, so the concept of moral self or moral conviction and how strongly leaders believed that it was important for them to be moral or ethical in the organisations.

The second concept was the commitment of stakeholders, so to what extent did leaders believe it was important to look after the interests of others, so the business, the shareholders, the customers, the people working for the company as well as their own interests.