Leadership: Purpose, Performance and Why I Work With Leaders…

Why do you do what you do? It’s a question I get asked regularly…

The answer to that question is incredibly important all of us and in particular every leader and business owner I work with. The answer provides us with what motivates and inspires us to get out of bed in the morning, face the challenge of spinning all of the plates we have to spin and is what empowers us when we recognise it, to truly connect and make a difference to our people. The answer often lies in our past and relates to a significant or set of significant occurrences or changes in our life – either something we wish to repeat and see others accomplish or something we never wish to see happen for ourselves or for others. It’s something that when utilised to its greatest helps us to achieve greatness – it’s our purpose.

Finding my purpose…

Our purpose is present in every moment we feel fulfilled, and in every second we feel a love of what we do – recognising it, means we can harness it and when others see us working in alignment with our purpose – they can’t help but comment – it’s that powerful. It’s the reason I get asked so much – why do you do what you do? How did you get into it?.

When I ask what has led to someone asking me these questions, (I’m a coach I seek understanding) I’m told it’s because of the passion, commitment, enthusiasm and dedication I bring to every piece of work I do and my desire to help leaders, business owners and their teams, no matter how challenging the situation. I’m told I’m motivational and inspiring and I often say that no matter how big the problem or challenge is, if we can get it on the table, I can fix it… it’s my drive and my purpose born from my experiences, gives me…

What’s created that purpose?

My purpose is to help people overcome their challenges, whatever they might be and in particular to help leaders and business owners create environments for personal, team and organisational growth. But, what has led me to want to do this so purposefully?

Stopping people from crying, led and brought success…

As a change consultant, I spent 6 weeks stopping people from crying during a merger between two building societies, where overnight, employees of one organisation had to become seamless employees of the other. Queues forming along the length of the high street with teams not sure how they would cope; my job was to help them and I did….but why did I do it and how do I find the patience and strength to help others facing adversity?

I’ve led projects and taken charge of sales teams that haven’t performed for two years, de-motivated lost and with no purpose, with line managers who felt that nothing could be done to change things; at a loss for what to do and with no desire to be ‘helped. My objective was to help them achieve target, which I did, often within a few months and against all odds…but why do I do what I do, when the odds might be stacked against those I work with? …

I’ve worked with leaders, business owners and sellers who have never performed to their true potential due to a lack of support from their own line managers or due to a lack of some straight forward practical and trusted guidance or fear of change…something I see so often…but why do I do what I do, when those I sometimes work with appear to not want to change and might appear mistrusting of the support I have been contracted in to provide?

I have worked with people who no one else has been able to ‘turn around’, opening myself up completely to them sharing my own hopes, fears and aspirations to ensure they feel comfortable to let me in. It’s an approach that has given flight to sleeping leaders, turned bottom sellers into stars and given confidence where none could be found…an approach that has meant totally putting myself on the line…but why do I do what I do, when it leaves me open to challenge and the insecurities that can be felt when sharing one’s own frailties?

Why do I do what I do, no matter the weather?

Why do I do what I do, no matter the weather? I’ll tell you. It’s because I understand what it’s like to be floating up stream without a paddle, without the knowledge, belief, confidence or skill needed to be able to achieve what you are being asked to do – without the environment you need to grow and be successful. It’s because I care about people and people performance, be it managers, leaders, sellers, customer service teams or indeed anyone who wants to do a great job but for a multitude of reasons, feel they can’t.

It’s because I know what it’s like to feel a ‘failure’ and to feel unable to do your job.

My first management role…

Approximately 10 years ago, I was given my first management role looking after a team of 9 people. Now as you can imagine, with it being my first management role, I felt equal parts trepidation and equal parts excitement. I wanted to be everything to the team, I wanted to generate an environment for growth, developing my team, supporting them and helping them to be what they wanted to be. I was promised support and mentoring from a line manager and the standard training that goes with the new line management responsibility. There was only one snag. The mentor who was due to look after me was called away to look after another team and with little or no mentoring, I quickly found that I was floundering under my own expectations and desire to ‘hit the ground running’.

The team I was managing seemed happy, my manager was happy and nothing I was doing was called into question, yet I felt that I was drowning under a sea of paper work, expectations and merely treading water. So, after 3 months, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life up to that point. I put my hand up and said I can’t do this, please can I go back to my old job – I was broken. Tail very much between my legs and with my confidence in tatters, I went back to my old role.

Getting my mojo back…

Over the course of the next 12 months I found again found my feet and my confidence grew. I got my mojo back and transformed the role I took over, finding a real love and enjoyment in developing my colleagues and making a difference to customers, recognising a natural ability to lead, develop and motivate my colleagues.

Towards the end of the 12 months I was recommended for a business development role, which I successfully applied for, a role in which, I finished second nationally having achieved the 2nd highest volumes of business in the UK, by influencing, developing and supporting over 18 retail outlets and over 300 managers and their teams to strive for and acquire business. Since then, I have lead further business and development strategies, change programmes and cultural change and developed business leaders to improve performance where they have overseen significant under performance. I have also lead my own team of 44 sellers to achieve target for the first time in two years, in only 3 months. In short, I have proved to myself that I can lead, develop and coach people; and generate an environment for growth – both human and business. The realisation that one can achieve leadership success with development, mentoring and support, coupled with a desire to succeed, has led to the successes I’ve already outlined above and to the opportunities through a variety of roles to develop leadership, teams and organisations on a daily basis, be it through coaching, training or mentoring.

It was from the very moment that I put my hand up and said “I can’t do this”, that I decided that I would develop myself to help leaders, teams and individuals to be confident, skilled and knowledgeable in what they do. I would help them to support their colleagues and teams and I would help them to actually do their jobs and not just share with them text book answers that would leave them still lost in how to do what they needed to do. It was from that very moment, that I realised that I never wanted to let anyone feel the way I had felt in my first management role or indeed anyone feel unsure of how to lead, manage, sell, train or coach others when they are asked to. It’s why I still get up each day with passion enthusiasm and non judgement for helping others, and to generate an environment for growth, be it organisational change, leadership effectiveness, work life balance or helping leaders and their teams address confidence issues. No matter the challenge  faced, You’re your leadership counsel and I am here to help…

Since that moment 10 years ago…

Since that moment 10 years ago, I have been developing leaders, sellers and their teams to achieve the success I know they can with effective training, observation, feedback and coaching. And it’s since that moment; I’ve been focused on making a difference.

When I tell people why I do what I do, they often look at me in awe or shock, telling me that they are inspired by my story and that I seem to love every minute of what I do and that I really do care – and I do. Sometimes it’s hard, and no matter how good I can be at what I do and no matter how much of a difference I can make, sometimes what I do can be challenging. After all, you can lead a horse to water but even I can’t always make them drink. But, when things get tough and I am even tempted to think to myself – here we go again. I ask myself, why do you do what you do? And I remember it’s because I care for once I was in that position too and I know that it sometimes only takes small changes in the environment being provided by leaders that creates the change we wish to see. It’s that purpose and understanding, which keeps me focused and thinking ‘can do’ and which enables me to help others to overcome come the barriers they face to their success.

How does purpose drive you to achieve?

I’d love to hear from you, why you do what you do and how you use that sense of purpose and passion to help you achieve for yourself and others.

If you don’t feel that level of passion and commitment to what you do, leading organisations, your people or your business, I’d love to hear from you too. In fact I’d love to help you. Get in touch, you never know, why I do what I do, could help you to find and realise what it is you want to do and why or indeed help you to do what you do more effectively and with greater confidence.

Thanks for reading; I look forward to hearing from you


Director – Your Leadership Counsel (Trading as Pinion Performance Ltd)

Generating an environment for growth…

Let me know what you think by dropping a comment below, or by sending me an email at stefan@yourleadershipcounsel.co.uk

Twitter: @stefanpowell

Example Testimonial

Below is just one example of the results you can achieve when you ensure that you hold onto why you do what you do.

“Stefan is a very skilled and talented coach who is able to use a broad range of techniques to get to the heart of any issue. He has a very reassuring, confident and diplomatic manner that instantly builds trust and respect whilst still remaining impartial. Having worked with him recently I felt fully engaged and energised throughout ,and he helped me to rationalise some complex business issues using multiple perspectives. A powerful and inspirational motivator- don’t hesitate to work with him!” Rav Bagri – National Sales Manager – Commercial – Nationwide Building Society


2 thoughts on “Leadership: Purpose, Performance and Why I Work With Leaders…

  1. Ready to lead your people in to 2014? – Stefan - Your Leadership Counsel's Blog

  2. Leadership and Legacy lessons from “The Book Thief” – Stefan - Your Leadership Counsel's Blog

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