Over the last few years purpose-driven leadership has received a lot of attention, and rightly so. Profitability and exceeding numerical targets remain extremely important, but for many there is no reason why they shouldn’t co-exist with a well-defined sense of purpose. Employees want to stand for something they believe in, and which positively impacts society. It doesn’t mean they are any less focused on results; in fact, it is likely they will perform much better.
As the CEO of a cybersecurity firm, I identify with this strongly. We work hard to protect organisations from malware. It’s that simple: we know that malware can cause a great deal of harm and we are here to prevent that from happening. That’s our purpose and it is a source of inspiration across our entire team.
Purpose and FDI
Prior to my career in technology, I had the privilege to work with our FDI teams across the globe while employed by the UK government. This is where I learned about purpose-driven leadership and how best to instil a high-performance culture.
Leading FDI teams outside your home country is a fascinating experience. Ultimately, you are aiming to win the lion’s share of quality inward investment in a particular market for your country. Yet most of your employees don’t share your passport – they are local hires. Why should they buy into the purpose you are so passionate about as a leader?
A bold vision
In my experience, everything starts with setting the right vision. Leadership is about being bold and acting with integrity; it’s about empowering people to reach their goals. To me, leadership starts with setting a clear vision. In the world of FDI, I’ve always felt that when you are based overseas, nothing is more important than bringing your corporate HQ’s vision to life locally. It must relate to what people in the local market care about, and that means you have to listen and understand, before you attempt to instil a vision.
Creating care around your vision
How does your home country’s ambition to win FDI projects translate to your local teams? How can they get excited about exceeding the FDI targets you set? Well, it’s back to purpose.
It’s about seeing beyond the FDI numbers and recognising that those numbers generate jobs, wealth, trade, understanding, cultural ties and so much more.
It’s about innovation, pushing boundaries and supporting entrepreneurs. It’s about science and technology. It’s about a mission people should care about and embrace. That, to me, is the key to everything else that follows.
You can’t expect to drive your team to peak motivation if they don’t buy into your vision. Targets mean nothing if people don’t care about why they are there in the first place. Running an FDI team provides a leadership environment that is fertile ground for all these to come together successfully.
This depth of purpose in the FDI world is what I enjoy bringing to the Møller Institute’s Advanced Foreign Direct Investment Leadership Programme. Sharing experiences amongst professionals from all corners of the world is a real privilege. From target setting, to maintaining peak motivation and managing performance; from FDI performance models to stakeholder management in government and the private sector. The sessions in the programme allow both speakers and participants to discuss how to optimise FDI results.
There is always so much to cover – but for me, it’s all about leadership… and it starts with the right vision.