Why Leaders Need a Purpose, Not Just a Job Description

Why Leaders Need a Purpose, Not Just a Job Description

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After her fascinating interview with HEVO founder Jeremy McCool, Jan reflects on the idea of declaring oneself a leader. Instead of fitting a mold, many successful young leaders are making their own statements of purpose, and the results are transforming the auto industry.

Drawing on lessons from Jeremy and other past show guests — including Michael Chime (Gen Z Ceo) and Doug Conant (former CEO of The Campbell Soup Co.)  Jan outlines a process for how leaders can remain true to themselves while creating a positive and productive company culture.

“We can influence somebody's life,” Jan says. “We can make it better; we can make it a wonderful, meaningful, challenging, awesome experience and culture — or we can make it as miserable as sin.”

On this episode of the Automotive Leaders Podcast, Jan challenges leaders to structure their company cultures around their value systems. Tune in for resources, inspiration, and practical questions to ask yourself as Jan speaks from her own experience in the industry. She shares a powerful story of how one of her clients stepped out with authenticity and vulnerability to radically shift her team’s culture. With the right mindset, any automotive leader can do the same. 

This is not about what it says on the company website or a set of motivational clichés. It’s time to get real and get personal. See how a simple statement can redefine your career.

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • Fitting an existing mold vs. establishing a new one
  • Why Gen Z leaders often choose purpose over money
  • Seeing leadership as an influence
  • How company values are born from the leader’s vision
  • Winning in the workplace — productivity and positivity can coexist
  • Creating a high-performance team
  • The framework of a leadership statement
  • Questions every leader should ask

Featured Expert: Jan Griffiths (Host) 

What she does: Jan is the co-founder and president of Gravitas Detroit, an organization dedicated to cultivating authentic leadership in the automotive industry by providing courses, workshops, speaking events, and more. She is also the host of The Automotive Leaders Podcast.

On leadership: “What I see coming through in the leaders of tomorrow — the leaders who will take this industry forward — they truly understand the importance of purpose, of vision, of conviction.” 

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show

[0:57] Break the mold: Jan draws inspiration from Jeremy McCool and explains why she feels encouraged by the rising generation of automotive leadership.

[2:03] Not your grandfather’s kind of leader: Jan contrasts her early experiences in automotive with the mindsets she observes in many Gen Z leaders, including Michael Chime of Prepared.

[4:23] Purpose over money: Many leaders are good at articulating what they do, but not why they do it. Jan challenges leaders to reflect on more than just the bottom line.

[5:13] ‘Leadership is influence’: An excerpt from Jeremy’s interview connects lessons from his time in the military to business leadership. Leaders must often ask people to do things that are impractical or illogical. Jeremy explains how to influence others successfully.

[9:43] Conviction over compliance: Jan shares what she sees as the defining quality of leaders of tomorrow and how company values are born from a leader’s vision.

[12:43] Tough but tender: It’s time to get practical. Jan recalls her interview with Doug Conant as she lays out how leaders can achieve both positive results and employee engagement.

[16:00] Think about your role: Building form lessons in Doug’s book, The Blueprint, Jan challenges listeners to make their own leadership statements. Jan shares the success story of one of her clients.

[18:59] Advice for auto industry leaders: Leaders should ask themselves these questions to define their leadership statements. 

Top quotes

[3:52] Jan: “The leaders we see coming up now are not interested in fitting a mold that somebody else has established. They're very comfortable in setting out who they are as leaders and being who they want to be. And they see leadership in a totally different way: They don't see it as a job. That's all about controlling and managing people. They don't see it that way.”

[4:55] Jan: “We're all very good at articulating what we do and how we impact the bottom line. But how often do we sit back and think, what is our job as a leader?

[6:00] Jeremy: “What I learned how to do is influence people to do things that were radical. Going to war does not make sense. It really doesn't, when you think of it from a very objective point of view. Putting yourself in danger doesn't make any sense, either. So you have to learn how to influence people to do things that are really impractical.”

[10:28] Jan: “You've heard me say many times, company values are far more than some numbers that you throw up on a chart and stick in a conference room or throw on your website. They've got to be meaningful. They've got a flow from the purpose, from the vision and, yes, you have to have conviction behind it.”

Mentioned in this episode:

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