Sarah Rozenthuler is an author, chartered psychologist, leadership consultant and dialogue coach with nearly 20 years international experience consulting to organizations around the world. Her current clients include Discovery Inc, Boots, Savills, Church of England, Standard Chartered Bank, Book Trust and Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
Sarah is the CEO of Bridgework, a consulting company she founded in 2007 to energise people to do great work. With deep expertise in making dialogue authentic and connecting people with a compelling purpose, Sarah inspires leaders, empowers teams and strengthens organisations to generate competitive advantage and become a force for good in the world.
1. What problem were you trying to solve with the book?
A business case for purpose has built over the last decade. Purpose-driven companies deliver strong financial results and attract the best talent. Purpose-led teams pull together and perform at the top of their game. Leaders with a compelling ‘why’ achieve results, sustain their success and feel fulfilled. The drivers of purpose have, however, been a ‘black box’; their workings hidden from view. It is precisely this missing piece that Powered by Purpose addresses. It turns theory into practice so that leaders can make purpose real in their careers as well as energise their people to do great work.
2. What surprised you most about writing the book?
It took me over four years to complete the manuscript when my previous book had only taken a year. The interest in purpose was gathering pace and there was a lot of literature to read. I was also ‘building the aeroplane whilst flying.’ As I worked on the corporate pitch coaching clients around purpose, I observed what made a difference and wrote about it in a way I hoped other leaders could follow. Writing the book was a good test of my own desire to make a difference. I had to be powered by purpose to finish writing it!
3. What will the reader learn?
This book gives the reader the know-how to lead with purpose. There are actionable, practical, can-do activities to bring purpose to life so that it’s not just fine words on a page. The book takes the reader through purpose in three ways. Firstly, what they can do to experience a greater sense of aliveness by making their day-to-day work feel meaningful. Secondly, how they can uncover a shared purpose for a team, drawing on the intelligence of the people around them. Finally, how their organisation can successfully engage and energise their stakeholders with a meaningful ‘why’ so that their whole ecosystem is linked up to make a difference.
4. What does this look like in practice?
There is a foreword by Paul Polman, former CEO Unilever, followed by ten chapters in three sections:
- PART I – THE FOUNDATIONS. Insights from the research about the purpose ‘movement’ and the shift from command-and-control to authentic, purpose-led leadership.
- PART II – THE FOUR CAPACITIES. The four leadership capacities that individuals need to develop in order to take others with them on the journey of becoming purpose-driven: Cultivate Leadership Presence, Make Dialogue Authentic, Engage Your Stakeholders, Connect on Purpose.
- PART III – THE THREE BRIDGES The three ‘thresholds’ for leaders to cross: co-create an inspiring organisational purpose; align a team around a potent purpose; and connect daily work with personal purpose.
The Epilogue by Dr Victoria Hurth describes the historical context and academic perspective of this emerging business paradigm.
5. How did you come to the view you describe in the book?
When I go into companies that are purpose-driven rather than financially driven as their dominant focus, the deep commitment that people have towards their work and to each other always catches my attention. Their bright energy is an incredible resource for serving customers and other stakeholders. These behaviours are of immense benefit to an organization but often missing. The common thread is a sense of purpose — in other words, doing work that is in service of others. This is a massive contrast to the stuckness I see in other organisations where the expectation is that business is primarily about metrics and financial outcomes. Bold, authentic, purpose-led leadership enables people, teams and organisations to thrive.
As leaders grapple with lifting people and performance, purpose has a pivotal part to play. With some simple but powerful how-to’s, the benefits of purpose — an ambitious organisation, an aligned team and flourishing individuals — are within the grasp of any leader who is open to learn, willing to be brave and put making a difference centre stage.
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