Leading from Within: How to Cultivate A Flourishing Life Through Purposeful Leadership

Published on
April 18, 2024


Like a boss! Is being a boss being purposeful in your leadership?

Over the years, I have spent much time reflecting on what it means to lead in a way that allows us to flourish personally and professionally and, by extension, lead others into a flourishing life. This is purposeful leadership. Purpose comes from our interior self. Purpose is being the best version of ourselves for the ones we love the most. We might also call this self-leadership.

In his book, Leading from the Inside Out, Sam Rima suggests "Many of today’s apparently successful leaders lead from a deficit in self-leadership.” He suggests self-leadership in four areas: 1. Spiritual, 2. Physical, 3. Emotional, and 4. Intellectual. I placed relational in my life rhythms model (developed in a deployed environment). Relationships were and are critical to my self-leadership.

Leadership can be like a frog in a kettle of lukewarm water. Over time, the frog will allow itself to be boiled to death as the water temperature is turned up. In the same way, deficits build up over time. Applying the frog analogy to leadership, we become the frog if we don’t act on the deficit. We may end up in places we don’t want to be.

Leadership failures are the result of a deficit building up over time. People are devastated. If we are not purposeful in leading ourselves, we may wake up one day and wonder, “How did I get here? How did I make such a wreck of things?”

As leaders, we may think that purpose is what we accomplish professionally, personally, athletically, academically, or the size of our organization. You may have other accomplishments that define your sense of purpose. True purpose forms from the interconnection of all parts of our humanness. External things do not define who we are.

Most importantly, purpose comes from living according to who we are in Christ. I remind myself of this each morning in my journal when I respond to the prompt, “Who does God say I am?” My usual responses are: “I am God’s beloved” and “I am God’s adopted son, his child, a loved member of his family.” Responding to this prompt daily reminds me that my worth does not come from the external. It comes from who I am in God.

Purposeful leadership is meaningfully leaning into behaviors and postures that enhance our relational connections.

Purposeful Leadership and Soul Rhythms

What is the connection between purposeful leadership and soul rhythms? Consider Rima’s point regarding self-leadership again: various areas of our life must be carefully cultivated and evaluated. Purposeful leaders exhibit markers of a well-tended soul: settled in spirit, able to offer an unhurried presence when attending to others, not quick to agitation, demonstrating evidence of a disciplined life, and evidence of a well-rounded soul care model in their life demonstrating the careful weaving of the threads of relational, spiritual, physical, and emotional rhythms.

I remind the reader of the origins of my model. My construct arose in the context of a shipboard military deployment. In my reflection after the deployment over what had gone well, the four areas I have identified (relational, spiritual, physical, and emotional) were the four that had the most profound impact on my flourishing. In my capacity as a chaplain, there was a complex simplicity during a deployment. The focus narrows to the mission at hand. Many things are stripped away. While I could have frequent conversations with my wife and children, I could not do anything tangible to help with their with their life back home.

My focus was on the deployment's mission, taking care of people, being a spiritual leader, being where I was told to be when told to be there, completing my required tasks, eating, and sleeping. The more complex part was navigating the rigors of being away from what was familiar and from those I loved and cared about.

Deployment required me to take care of my physical, spiritual, emotional, and relational selves while away. Figuring out how to do so was complex. The simplicity and complexity for me, as a care provider, were different than they were for the commander and those making the ship operational.

My life rhythm model is only a suggestion. The reader must determine what they need to add to my model. Some elements may need more emphasis during different seasons of your life. The title of this chapter suggests that you must be purposeful in leading yourself well. Remember, it suggests tending to our whole self because our soul, body, mind, and emotions are interconnected.

Your Turn

Elsewhere, I have written about several keys to assessing your leadership. There, I wrote about how alignment leads to boldness, essential to confidently leading. I later added clarity and congruence to the mix. The connection between these five keys is the requirement to know ourselves at our deepest levels. We lead best when there is alignment and congruence between who we are at our deepest levels and our leadership.

Knowing ourselves well is foundational to effective self-leadership and, by extension, leadership of others. By knowing myself well, I could build an effective rhythm of life, enabling me to deal well with the rigors of deployment. While I have changed some of my practices, this is the same model I use as a writer.

Your leadership requires you to know yourself well and know what rhythms and practices are essential to lead purposefully.

Consider these questions:

  1. What are ways you do self-leadership? In what ways do you need to improve your self-leadership?
  2. How does your purpose connect to your soul rhythm? How could you improve the connection?

Connect with me here: https://page.gregwoodard.com/purposeful-leadership. There, you can access my Guide to Purposeful Leadership and learn more about my Soul Rhythms for Purposeful Leadership book.

I regularly share things I am learning as I write and live life. I’d love to have you join me.

Join my newsletter for timeless wisdom on understanding yourself and achieving your goals. You'll receive access to my Guide to Purposeful Leadership.
By subscribing you agree with our Privacy Policy and provide consent to receive updates from me.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Site proudly made by ⚡ Ignore No More
© 2022 Gregory Woodard, LLC. All rights reserved.