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Versique HR Lab #10: Purpose-Driven Leadership and Engaging Work Cultures

We recently hosted our 10th HR Lab that was all about purpose-driven leadership and building engaging work cultures. It was an inspiring discussion led by local leaders Blake Elliot, Co-Founder Rumi, and Samantha Hanson, CAO, North Memorial Health. 

If you’d like to watch the previous HR Lab, you can click here to watch the replay. Read on for some key takeaways from this inspiring discussion!   

How Today’s Leaders Visualize Leadership 

Samantha used a great analogy of a maple tree to help the audience visualize leadership. In this analogy, the roots represent a leader’s values: 

  • The roots matter the most. Roots that run deep influence us and ground us, making us who we are. 
  • The tree’s canopy represents our responsibility to understand our skills and abilities. It’s how leaders show up. The image of a canopy is on the mark because it continues to change over time. While the canopy is what people see, it is not just about the canopy. 
  • The trunk connects the tree and holds us stable. 

Purpose Driven Leadership During Times of Crisis 

Samantha described a specific example of how true purpose-driven leadership can be defined by how they show up during a crisis. 

Like most hospitals during the COVID pandemic, much of the staff at North Memorial Hospital were working on the front lines. 

The leadership team at North Memorial was committed to being honest and transparent every step of the way, showing up with a clear and aligned purpose to support their staff and their mission. They made the best decisions they could with the information they had at the time. They were transparent and open with their team as to how they came to their decisions. “We were doing things that we had no playbook for,” said Samantha. “What we had was purpose.” 

How Personal Experience Can Inspire Leadership 

Blake described how he and his teams meet many of their clients at some of the hardest times in their lives. He said sometimes, a simple question – “Why are we here?” was a powerful tool in keeping him focused on his purpose. 

He also shared how he has drawn upon the perspectives he gained from both of his parents on how they related to work. This boiled down to sacrifices and how as leaders there are certain sacrifices we make.  

Blake went on to share a personal story about how a traumatic experience in his 20’s exposed him to a world he had previously had no exposure to and ultimately inspired him to start three companies: Bridges that supports people with disabilities, Northstar that supports people with opioid addiction, and Rumi which is a disability roommate matching service. 

Finally, Blake talked about moving from good to great leadership, referencing John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership and the challenging fourth level that is going from being a strong leader to a strong leader that trains, teaches and develops other leaders.  

Key Takeaways: A Summary 

We heard so much goodness from Samantha and Blake. To summarize the key takeaways: 

  • In reference to Samantha’s tree analogy – know your root system is, or your purpose. 
  • The leadership canopy and how it changes based on our experiences. 
  • The power of being transparent about what you don’t know and being clear about how you’re navigating those uncertainties.  
  • A leader’s role as Chief Reminder Officer – ask your employees about the organization’s values, watch for how they show up, and make decisions and prioritize by going back to the values. Ask the question, how does this help us advance our values?  
  • How great leaders help develop other leaders. 
  • Avoiding a lengthy list of values, know what is most important.  

A huge thank you to Blake and Samantha! If you haven’t joined our HR Labs before, we highly recommend you check them out. Versique hosts HR Labs twice a year with the intent to gather HR leaders to hear stories and insights from HR leaders. We look forward to seeing you at our next HR Lab!