Characteristics of Purpose-Driven Leaders

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Purpose-driven leaders didn't get that way by accident. In this lesson, we'll explore the characteristics of purpose-driven leaders and learn how they can influence actions and behaviors in the workplace.

Purpose-Driven Leadership

When TOMs Shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie, developed the idea for his company, he was driven by a singular purpose. No, it wasn't to make money (although he has) or gain notoriety (he's done that, too), but to find a solution for the shoeless, blistered and dusty feet of Argentina's children - a condition he saw first-hand on a trip he took.

Purpose-driven leaders inspire their employees to action beyond the cash register.
purpose-driven, leaders, TOMs, shoes

What he built was a global company worth $400 million that has given away 70 million pairs of shoes, backed by a workforce of more than 500 employees who see their workplace culture driven by the company's purpose firsthand. Mycoskie helped to create ''Happy Helping Hour'' at the company, where employees and charities team up to effect change, and employees are invited on ''giving trips,'' where they travel to other countries and assist non-profit partners with various projects.

Mycoskie is just one of many purpose-driven leaders who has tied business and purpose together and has energized employees to support the company's vision.

Purpose-driven leaders look beyond the day-to-day tasks of running a business and work to inspire and motivate others to purpose for a charity, movement or community. These types of leaders also possess certain characteristics that set them apart from their peers.

Characteristics of Purpose-Driven Leaders


Self-awareness is all about knowing and understanding who you are: what your strengths and weaknesses are, what motivates you, what excites you and what you believe.

By being self-aware, you have a greater capacity to understand others and build relationships. Because you are more attuned to your own being, you are better able to put yourself in the shoes of others.


It probably comes as no surprise that purpose-driven leaders have, well, drive. Mycoskie's trip to Argentina began as an opportunity for him to ''lose myself in its culture,'' but turned into something much greater. Mycoskie witnessed a need on that trip and was compelled to act on it.

The trait of being driven is simply an innate desire to fulfill a need to reach an objective with determination. Having drive backed by purpose causes leaders to spring into action, and it motivates everyone around them to participate.


No one ever said that the path of a purpose-driven leader was going to be easy. That's why they need resilience, which is the ability to overcome or bounce back from adversity or challenges. Resilient people thrive under pressure and make the best of it.

When purpose-driven leaders demonstrate resilience, they show people around them what's possible despite setbacks. This creates a workforce that believes they can surmount any challenge thrown their way.


Adjusting to change can be a difficult area for a lot of people to master. Agility is the ability to adjust to and anticipate change. But, not just that, it's the willingness, even excitement to change and adapt.

Agility demonstrated in an organization sets a corporate culture among employees that views change not as something to fear, but something to embrace.

Here's a small-scale example: A bank president who is a purpose-driven leader with the trait of agility may require that all of his staff members learn the roles and requirements of every job position in the bank. Then, when turnover happens or a surge of customers come in, employees are not overwhelmed but are equipped to change roles to adapt to the situation.


Confidence in the workplace may mean trusting or believing in yourself or even others. Confidence in the workplace or in life requires positive self-image and good self-esteem. It is being comfortable in your own skin.

Confident leaders are more successful, but can admit their mistakes and grow from them. They have the ability to do the best thing for the business, regardless of others' opinions.

These types of leaders create an environment where employees work synergistically and are encouraged to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses to be successful.

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