In Igniting Purpose-Driven Leadership, Jim Nevada, executive consultant, coach, and entrepreneur, suggests that the essential element many leaders are missing and that sets apart successful leaders from the rest is a focus on purpose. In his book, he reveals how leaders can stay focused on their and their organization’s purpose and find the right people to bring that purpose to fruition.
Far more than just another business or personal development book, Igniting Purpose-Driven Leadership is packed with research about leadership, successful businesses, and the philosophies of world-leading companies and their CEOs. The extensive notes and index show that Nevada has done his research, and the book’s tone and content reflect that he has not only done it well, but he has made it digestible by providing an entertaining and informative read for anyone who wants to become a better leader.
Many successful companies are featured in Igniting Purpose-Driven Leadership, including Google, Amazon, and Southwest Airlines. Nevada shows that from the beginning, Google’s founders have always operated their business with purpose in mind. Others like Southwest Airlines understand that people need to be the foundation of their business. Nevada states, “A company’s future lies in the creative minds and hands of its people.” Consequently, creativity is a fundamental skill and purpose for businesses that want to succeed in what Nevada refers to as the “Era of Human Capital.”
One point Nevada makes that I especially appreciated is the need to focus on abundance and not have a scarcity mentality. Too many times we hear people talk about how hard it is to find good help, but the truth is that many qualified and capable people are out there, and often the problem is that companies fail to utilize their employees’ full potential. Nevada proposes, “If our goal is to get the greatest level of energy and creativity out of our people, then we must set aside our limiting beliefs and realize the unlimited potential in everyone. From there, we can be more effective at making the shift from a scarcity to an abundance mentality.” Nevada encourages hiring people even when we aren’t sure what role they can play if they are a right fit for the company and are creative. Such purpose-driven hiring will result in employees who are dedicated to the company’s purpose and will enjoy their work. It’s a way to move away from short-term thinking that focuses on results-first and instead act from a long-term approach based on people first. At the same time, don’t hire the wrong people. Nevada recommends you, “take your time and bear the cost to ensure your new hires are the proper fit, even ridding the business of high-performers, just because they’re not aligned.”
And once you have those people in place, treat them very well. I give kudos to Nevada for his comments about how some companies fail to treat employees or even customers well. For example, Wal-Mart, which in the past was applauded for treating employees well, gets a black mark against it for having Black Friday sales that have resulted in mayhem and even deaths and injuries. He notes that several companies are now closing their doors on Black Friday and also providing better prices to customers year round. This discussion alone was worth the price of this book, and hopefully, the options Nevada describes will become part of retail future.
All of these examples reflect purpose-driven thinking, as Nevada describes it, but they can also be described as future-focused thinking. Nevada points out how successful leaders and companies not only solve existing problems but solve problems that don’t yet exist because they can foresee them and then come up with creative solutions to them. One of my favorite quotations in the book illustrates this point. Henry Ford once said, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Nevada advocates for purpose-driven and future-focused thinking that anticipates what people will want before they know it themselves.
Finally-and there is much more I could say about this book, but best to let you read the rest on your own-I loved when Nevada discussed how purpose-driven leaders and companies are not afraid to redefine their purposes and themselves. For example, I think Henry Ford, if he were alive today, would be proud to know that the company he founded a century ago has recently made public that it no longer considers itself an automobile company. Rather, it is a company focused on “improving mobility solutions around the world.” As Nevada says, “This is a big step change for one of the largest manufacturers in the world. It requires that Ford not only reinvent how it presents itself to the external market, but how it operates internally as well.”
It’s time for more businesses to follow in the footsteps of Ford, Southwest Airlines, Google, and other leading companies that have clearly defined purposes and recognize their employees. As a case in point, we often hear how Millennials don’t have the work ethic of earlier generations, but Nevada says that data suggests nearly 90 percent of Millennials want increased opportunities for professional development and greater responsibilities, but only one-third feel their organizations are fully using their skills and experiences. Something is wrong with that picture. Fortunately, the tools and information provided in Igniting Purpose-Driven Leadership can help change that.
This book is one to put on the shelf next to other modern business classics like Jim Collins’ From Good to Great. But before you put it on a shelf, read it! And then you’ll probably be repeatedly taking it down from the shelf. It’s that purpose-driven.