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Can you have a career with soul?

By Scotty Johnson

Light through trees-1

Business success is a cycle that justifies itself. Having the skills and determination to deliver success is all that seems important on the way up. But when you reach the top as a CEO or entrepreneur, it can start to seem more like a trap - a bubble of habits and behaviours that’s holding you back.
The cycle has met targets and delivered profitability, but what else is there? Success shouldn’t solely be measured in terms of the acquisition of wealth. What has it all been for, what have been the effects of driving that cycle on the people around you?

So it’s time to look at the next stage of personal development, but traditional programmes for senior leaders only prepare them to be more effective within the bubble, to keep the cycle running.

You can do more

The truth is that talented business people are capable of much more than making money. We’re also living in a world where those talents are needed in many different ways - are vital even - for dealing with all of the considerable problems of climate change, creating sustainability, the declining levels of trust in institutions, in business and government.

We’re working with senior execs to unlock their greater potential, to find the source of energy and direction for the next phase, the next challenge, and what that should be.

Our experience shows that it’s not as simple as realising it’s time for change. The bubble is too strong, too deeply ingrained in who leaders have become. It takes the harder snap of some powerful experiences to get to a genuine Eureka moment. That means getting far away from typical executive development where you will sit in a conference room with post-it notes and flip charts. This only scratches the surface, leading to temporary ‘nice-to-have’ insights. Instead there’s the need to get away from business culture, what it looks and feels like, to a situation where the discussion is about people and who they are, what they want. Back to the human ‘beings’ rather than, as is so often the case in the business world, human ‘doings’.

How to find Purpose

Cranfield’s new Purpose experience has been designed specifically to create this different environment for leaders - to break tired habits, to clear foggy, pressurised thinking - as a way to tap into the original fire they felt when they were first starting out, to give the world a new transparency, a brighter clarity.

Examples from similar programmes have demonstrated how once people have attained these kinds of far-reaching insights about themselves, what they really want, what they can do, they can’t go back to the old cycle. They’ve changed. One group of participants came back to us individually with oddly similar feedback. Each told us how family and friends had said they looked physically taller. They were carrying themselves differently, there was visibly more of them.

With Purpose, some leaders go through profound changes and make fundamental decisions in terms of their future; others see their business in ways they hadn’t before, become inspired to make valuable changes. Thinking more in terms of the wider social good is one aspect, but isn’t separate from continuing to run an organisation. The world needs ‘better’, more socially responsible businesses, and organisations themselves will in turn benefit from having a social purpose that resonates both customers who want to associate with ethical providers and with the new generations of talent looking for a career with meaning, with soul.

Purpose is run in Partnership with Explore What Matters®.


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Tags: Cranfield School of Management, featured learning, learning, featured sidebar talent, featured sidebar all, featured sidebar learning, featured all, exec-feature, career development, executive development, executive, professional development, training, study