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Purposeful Leadership

With Purposeful Leadership, we think to unleash human potential by placing purpose at the heart of leadership. Our world-class research team is working to understand the conditions that make purpose a driver of both personal fulfilment and organizational performance.

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What the research demonstrates

Most of us have the intuition that a concrete goal that goes beyond profit maximization is essential for companies’ effectiveness and performance. But evidence indicates that simply having a purpose does not necessarily improve organizational effectiveness nor performance. Why should it be? Purposes come in multiple forms and shapes and at least half of them could be energizing and the other half cheap talk, resulting in a null effect on average.

What researchers have found to be crucial for purpose to result in higher performance is how clearly employees perceive their organizations’ purpose and how authentic this purpose is in relation to practice

We also know that performance benefits from enhanced engagement toward activities not directly related to financial performance (pro-bono, corporate social initiatives in general) and better coordination among organizational members.

How then can purposeful leadership have an impact on performance?


This impact is actually channeled through an increase in labor productivity and current research suggests that this increase relies on two connected mechanisms: one, an increase in deeper trust and loyalty; two, an increase in dedication and autonomy.

Thus, we assume that the fusion of the purpose and the strategy of a company, driven by a purposeful leadership that creates trust and engagement, together allows companies to improve performance through better coordination and higher engagement. 

schéma fusion of the purpose and the strategy

Managers are expected to help their teams develop a clear sense of their organizations’ purpose and how their everyday work is related to this purpose. The way and the degree to which managers achieve this varies considerably, but the more actively managers engage in behaviors intended to communicate the organizations’ purpose, the more clearly their teams will perceive it.

For all these reasons, we are thrilled to conduct research on purposeful leadership.


Example of Research

Chang-Wa Huynh,  PhD student at HEC Paris, describes his research work within the Purposeful Leadership Chair, and argues that considerations of meaning and fulfillment go beyond financial motivations for a growing proportion of workers.

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Approaches to purposeful leadership

by Chang-Wa Huyn, and Rodolphe Durand

Purposeful leadership offers new managerial responses to contemporary social demands and technological developments by proposing to give a meaning to action taken in organizations. Several approaches to purposeful leadership, rooted in distinct philosophical traditions, have emerged in recent years. However, the approaches to purposeful leadership all share a conception of the place occupied by organizations in society and of their moral role that is increasingly taking root and being deployed in interactions between leaders and employees. 

Download the report 

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Are we all equally sensitive to purpose in the workplace?

by Daria Mieszkielo, Cécile de Lisle and Rodolphe Durand

The motivation behind individuals’ decisions is a central topic in nearly every field of study. If the self-interest hypothesis has been predominant for several decades, the exploration of how concerns for others might meddle with motivation in the workplace has depicted a more nuanced reality, in which social preferences have a role to play in decision-making. Below we provide an overview of the different types of social preferences and how they interact with organizational purpose.

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Research Team

Professor - Strategy and Business Policy and holder of the Joly Family Purposeful Leadership Chair
Associate Professor - - Strategy and Business Policy
Associate Professor - Management & Human Resources
Assistant Professor - Strategy and Business Policy