12 Purposeful Leadership Principles

Following 18 years of working in the corporate purpose space, we have identified 12 leadership principles that help drive positive change.

It starts with the individual

This is arguably the most important principle as it reminds us that a better world will only be built when we are all involved in shaping our future. This is particularly important right now when many of our great global and national institutions are struggling to have an impact.


This principle can also guide us to be honest about how we feel. Without a safe and open culture, there is little possibility that people will bring their full selves to the workplace. Greater openness can also lead to addressing major issues such as wellbeing and mental health. Truly building a culture of openness in the workplace at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic is critical.


Keeping the human element in mind – to be fun and be happy – is a critical part of building a high performing workforce. This principle can help a remote workforce flourish. It’s not just how people get their work done but it’s about creating the right culture to allow people to flourish. Fun is particularly important at a time like this when there is so much uncertainty.


This principle recognises that purposeful organisations require courage to make difficult decisions, to challenge the status quo and to make change happen despite the obstacles. Many things can get in the way and throw you off course such as shareholder pressure or cynicism amongst employees, stakeholders and the media. It takes courage to take action.


Having humility in business is a key element of purposeful leadership. A willingness to share and be honest about the challenge of doing good and making money, both at an individual and organisational level, builds deeper and more authentic relationships.

Also, being self-aware and having the ability to put yourself in the shoes of your different stakeholders helps build a transparent and supportive culture.


Authenticity is essential in building a purposeful organisation. When you are in alignment with your values and principles, you are serving from a place of authentic care and engagement. You are connecting with your stakeholders in a way that is both truthful and personal.

Authenticity gives life to the things that make you and your organisation perform.


Ownership is taking the initiative to bring about positive results.

A culture of participation and ownership helps create a thriving and purposeful organisation. Encouraging employees to take ownership of their actions and demonstrate leadership is vital to a positive and fulfilling working environment for everyone.

Unifying Vision

Creating a unifying vision is fundamental to building a purpose-driven organisation. Crafting your vision will help you define your company’s short and long-term goals and guide the decisions you make along the way. And, bringing different stakeholders together around a common goal provides direction for developing strategies to achieve a better future.

Work Iteratively

When we work iteratively, the outcome is a collective impact and an encouragement for others to start making the small changes necessary to be successful.

As a result, we’re able to approach each day to our fullest potential and bring our most productive selves into work.

Building Coalition

The need to work effectively across organisations has never been more important. A coalition built on shared goals and values is a great tool for driving change.

Collaborating with people from different teams, who have different skills and perspectives, creates an open culture where everyone’s thoughts and opinions are heard.

Connecting people to something they care about and feel they can contribute towards is fundamental to building a purpose-driven organisation.

Small things make a difference

We continue to explore how Pulse’s 12 purposeful leadership principles help drive positive change. This week we look at Small things make a difference.

This principle resonates with a lot of people. It is an acknowledgement that big strategic initiatives can often stay on the drawing board unless they are broken down into everyday actions. For example, addressing the climate crisis can feel overwhelming. However, we can all play our role in recycling, thinking about how we get to work, where we might holiday and how much energy we consume. These small habits can lead to significant change.

Serve Others

The most respected individuals who have created successful businesses and have changed the world know they’re never too important to be in service to others. Everyone is the same. Organisations are a great vehicle to allow people to solve problems for others and to use profit to make a social impact in other people’s lives. When the heart and character of a person are in the right place, the power of entrepreneurship can bring those intentions to life.