Lead from Within: Become a Leader with a Personal Mission

Learn what you are made up of.
What you stand for.
And what you are here to contribute.
Lolly Daskal

When you think of a great leader who comes to your mind? Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Tony Hsieh, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, or Martin Luther King, Jr.? What are some of the characteristics that we are able to witness from these wonderful leadership role models?

• Social responsibility
• Caring
• Innovation
• Commitment to making a difference
• Optimism
• Joyful disposition
• Focus on personal development
• Driven by a sense of purpose

A great leader understands that his/her external environment is a true representation of how much he/she can grow from within. Certain skills and expertise contribute toward making a good leader. However, to move from a good to great leader, one has to focus on personal growth to influence the growth of one's team and organization. And growth from within is typically driven by a personal mission. A personal mission defines:

• Who you want to become.
• What you stand for.
• How you will live out your purpose.

Looking at the above leadership examples, I want to focus on Sir Richard Branson. As he has said, Virgin's mission statement could easily be "Screw it, let's do it." I believe this applies to his personal mission as well. He has been willing to be a contrarian and challenging the status quo. His motto has served him so well that he's just been voted Britain's most admired business leader of the past 50 years in a poll of top bosses. Richard Branson truly leads from within. He leads from his heart, inspires and motivates people driven by his strong commitment to his personal mission. All this with lots of fun, laughter and a sense of adventure.

A lot of leaders and emerging leaders though aren't quite certain what their personal mission is since they're guided by many different personal motivators. I have found that writing out your personal mission statement is the best way to get clear on what your personal mission is. During personal branding workshops that I lead with emerging leaders, I typically guide participants through a 3-step process to help them formulate their own personal mission statement:

  1. Define your top 3 core values, i.e. what beliefs guide you; and how do you have to feel to be energized and joyful?
  2. What is the number one thing you want to have achieved during your lifetime? This isn't about what others say at your funeral. It's what you will make you feel fulfilled when you depart from this planet.
  3. Write out a one-sentence statement that captures your values and lifetime achievement. It should be motivating and inspiring. Examples are:

"To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference." Denise Morrision, CEO of Campbell Soup

"To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be." Oprah Winfrey, Founder of OWN

Being a leader is a true gift. So, learn to bring your own gifts and purpose into the mix when you go about leading your team and organization. We see far too many examples of individuals who function as leaders in title only. The world needs a lot more leaders who serve through their personal mission and want to make a difference. I can't wait to see you step up and lead the way!

Are you a leader looking to influence and inspire your team? Learn why you first need a solid personal mission to help you rally your team and mobilize your stakeholders in my book The Impactful Leader.