C-level individuals must function as dynamic, thoughtful leaders. They must guide their employees, teams, and organizations with a conviction that goes beyond the bottom line.
Put simply, leaders need to lead with purpose.
At its root, purpose indicates intentionality. It encompasses ambition, determination, and aspiration. This is distinct from a mission statement, which reflects the values of the company itself and its reason for existence.
Purpose in leadership delves deeper. In addition to considering your corporate vision, it takes into account you as an individual and all of your peers and team members. Do the personal values of each executive, manager, and employee align with their work? What is the primary emotional motivation behind what you and your organization do?
To put it differently, what is something that is so crucial to your collective professional existence that you would be willing to sacrifice money or profits to uphold it? While financial success is undeniably important for any for-profit entity, it is not the sole concern.
The answer to that question is the key to finding purpose in the workplace. As a leader, it serves as the cornerstone that enables you to lead consistently and with intentionality.
The concept of purposeful leadership is nebulous at first glance. There’s nothing like emotions to make an executive uncomfortable. Most C-level execs are type-A individuals who are not typically comfortable with emotional drivers. They think rationally and are action-oriented. Taking the time to explore emotional depth in their leadership style isn’t often a priority — even though it should be.
Taking time to explore your internal workings and reflecting on what drives you leads to a more effective style of leadership. Allowing healthy emotional drivers to have a place in your leadership activity opens up your eyes to creative decision-making which can have a significant positive impact on your company, your employees, and even yourself.
Personally, I’ve found that I derive immense motivation and satisfaction from executive recruitment. I specifically enjoy placing business leaders in roles that are equal parts challenging and fulfilling for them. At the same time, purposeful placement enables greater success for their organization, their business, and their employees. The positive impact even ripples out to have a broader effect on their communities and individual lives.
Remember, business is a team sport. It requires interaction between individuals whose values and purpose must align if they’re going to work effectively. You can’t identify strong leadership purely through high standards of qualifications, experience, and capabilities. You must align deeper things, such as core values, cultural fit, emotional intelligence, strategic vision, and communication skills.
These require a sense of purpose and intention that looks past profitability. It also requires a certain level of vulnerability.
As an oilfield executive in the past, I regularly strived to show this deeper humanness in my leadership style through vulnerability. This made me more approachable. It also opened the doors to understanding where people were coming from, what made them tick, and how they could fit in with my organization in a mutually beneficial manner.
Purposeful leadership goes beyond existing staff. It applies to the hiring process, as well.
When you lead with purpose, it helps you hire with values as well as the bottom line in mind. Workplace culture fit, DEI initiatives, soft skills, personal character — these become priorities with each person you onboard.
When it comes to hiring C-level individuals, intentionality is essential. You must be able to assess key attributes, such as servant leadership, emotional intelligence, and how a candidate’s values align with your company. For this to happen, you have to have more than profitability in mind.
“When it comes to hiring C-level individuals, intentionality is essential.”
The obvious struggle here is quantifiability. It’s difficult to objectively assess if a person has the values and emotional capabilities to be a purposeful leader within your organization.
That’s where a consultative executive search partner adds incalculable value. A good executive search consultant invests the time and energy to understand an organization. They study the leadership team and strive to grasp its greater purpose.
This equips them with the knowledge (coupled with their own tools, techniques, network, experience, etc.) that helps them execute an effective executive search. They can use both benchmarks and intuition gained from extensive experience to identify the talent best suited to step seamlessly into an organization.
At Stanton Chase, our goal is to always keep purpose in mind throughout the executive recruitment process. While finances are a crucial starting point, we strive to look beyond fiscal considerations and gauge how each C-level individual that we place aligns with a company’s values. That way, each placement and their company can thrive as they benefit from the effects of purpose-driven success.
As a Managing Director at Stanton Chase, Ken Nimitz is an accomplished retained executive search professional who has completed a number of C-level and VP-level assignments across a broad spectrum of industry segments and functional roles.
Before Stanton Chase, Ken’s 25-year career spanned Fortune 500 companies and startups. Starting as an offshore engineer at Schlumberger Limited, he honed his field-level management skills. Over 18 years, he climbed the ranks, tackling roles in operations, corporate recruiting, IT, and product development. His knack for revitalizing business operations and fostering cultural unity led to executive roles at Neptune Marine Services, Glori Energy, and Allied-Horizontal Wireline.
Ken has a BSc in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and completed his MBA through the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Click here to learn more about Ken.
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