This Purpose-Driven Approach To Change Will Inspire Your Impact, Performance & People

By Mark Griffin


As a Senior Leader / Business Owner, how do you think about change?

VUCA seems like an understatement these days with the sheer pace, connectivity, conflict, and pressure we see around us. It’s certainly a core contributor to overwhelm and burnout.

Those of us who are able to embrace change with resilience, agility, confidence, and commitment enjoy positive and more sustainable outcomes. Those of us who struggle miss important opportunities for growth and may experience overwhelm, burnout, stagnation, and disengagement. Clearly, these outcomes, whether positive or negative, ripple throughout the organization via your people.

Consider this simple purpose-led model for change:

(Perception + Possibilities + Practice) x People

It frames up an approach to change that goes deeper, broader, and further than what we see in front of us. It positively impacts us individually and those around us. So, while people are the multiplier, none of this works unless we are modeling the behaviors that demonstrate our own capacity and motivation for change.

In our Me, We, World impact framework, it all starts with “Me.”

When change is constant, so is choice.

Thus, making the best choices consistently yields the best short- and longer-term outcomes. The purpose-led model for change is designed for you to make choices you’re proud of. Overwhelm, burnout, and stagnation fade off in the rearview mirror as you become excited about today and what’s ahead.

1. Perception

If you take a traditional coaching approach to change, you are going to focus on what you see in front of you.

  • What are the challenges you want to overcome?
  • How about your goals and priorities associated with those?

Good. We’ll get there. If I’m asking you those questions upfront, you’re going to be looking through the same lens as always. Nothing’s different. However, if I change your perspective, what you see in front of you looks different and your perceptions change.

So, before you look forward, look inward.

Taking time and space for self-reflection builds self-awareness, which is the origin of all change. It will change your perspective, help you lean into your values and purpose, hone your focus to the things that matter most, and perceive a different landscape in front of you.

Here’s one simple example:

Insight: “I want to more effectively engage with my leadership team.”

Default Perspective: Ask them for feedback, prioritize a behavior based upon their feedback, practice it = Good.

Purpose-led Perspective: includes the above but also considers things grounded in our best-self and the impact we want to have. Such as:

  • What would I be proud of this team saying about me in 10 years’ time?
  • What characteristics would they be raving about, that enabled me to get the best out of each of them?
  • What would they say they learned or benefited from because of my interactions with them?

Overlay the team’s here and now feedback with your aspirational view. Then, prioritize. Which behavior are you most excited about, which one really moves the needle? Let’s focus on that = Great!

2. Possibilities

Now with our refreshed perceptions, we look to the possibilities ahead. They now look different, likely better. Building upon the very granular example from before, let’s say the priority behavior you were going to practice was being more inclusive.

Simply ask yourself, “If I were more inclusive with my leadership team, what could the possibilities be?”

  • Think near-term first – perhaps they would feel more confident speaking up, providing feedback, offering a unique otherwise untapped perspective, challenging you if you’re headed off track.
  • Then consider, what possibilities could that lead to? EG Better-informed and more timely decisions, increased agility, stronger cohesion and trust.
  • Ask again… you get the idea.

Similar to the 5 whys activity, asking ‘what if’ around possibilities multiple times gets you to the ultimate possibilities. These will be around increased impact, sustained out-performance, greater wellbeing, etc.

This doesn’t take long but the additional time invested enables us to strive towards the ultimate possibilities ahead, not just the ones right in front of us. They are bigger, more exciting, more meaningful. They point to the purpose of why we want to change. Once we have our what and why in place, implementing the how is way more effective. Importantly also, as these bigger possibilities are aligned with the immediate ones, the actions required to go forward are bite-sized and significantly leverage the behavior you are focused on. That means we have increased both our capacity and motivation for change along with our ability to build momentum through focused action.

3. Practice

Right, this is where the rubber meets the road. Regardless of whether you adopt a traditional or purpose-led model for change, you do have to actually change. This is all about the actions and behaviors you exhibit that can be observed.

This step is about listing out the actual practices you choose to adopt, adapt, and improve upon over time. Essentially, how you practice the practice. The more explicit you are, the more you can engage people to support you and hold you accountable.

So again, taking the same example, ask: “What does being more inclusive with my leadership team look like?”

One practice might be: Host monthly 1-on-1s with each of my leadership team. Under the traditional approach, you schedule it, do it, stick with it. Good.

The purpose-led approach would also suggest you answer:

  • What does a 1-on-1 that’s about being inclusive look like?
  • What do we want to discuss that could (in part) lead to increased engagement?
  • How do I want them to feel at the end of the conversation?
  • What would I want them to say about my behavior during that 1-on-1?

Perhaps I ask each member of the leadership team to answer these questions for me. I compare my answers to theirs and then I quickly design an agenda that is slightly tailored for each.

Again, answering these questions won’t take long and the value in doing so can be considerable. Because we now have a curated wish list, from which we can highlight 3-5 observable behaviors that we can commit to, ask for feedback on, and get better at.

For example, you might come up with:

  • Ask them, “What’s on your mind?”
  • Listen holistically.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t jump to solutions, instead ask tell me more…
  • Ask for suggestions at the end of the meeting as to how you could have made it more engaging.

If you were looking to engage better with your team, these were largely new practices, or at least practices you wanted to be more consistent about. Imagine the impact of doing with each of them every month. It would be significant. Most importantly, you’re spending the time with them anyway, so the little extra discretionary effort up front makes that time far more valuable. It enables the equation to add up so you can tee up the people multiplier. Again, it’s a choice – you can either get better or keep doing things the same way.

We’ll dig deeper into the people multiplier in our next article around more effective engagement of your people and stakeholders (We and World). The things you can do to support them.

Just remember, change starts from inside out, with you first.

If you don’t model change, no one else will either.