Finding your purpose as a leader
Welcome back to episode 22 of Leader Talk! On this episode we spoke to Dr Ahmed Abbassi, the Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development at the Qatar Stars League and the co-founder of Qatar Solar Energy W.L.L. Previously, Ahmed was the Director of Operations at the Qatar Football National Teams and was the FIFA Competitions Coordinator during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018.
Ahmed is widely recognised as an experienced leader with a proven history of talent and passion in the sporting industry. He excels in all areas involving leadership, strategy, football management and governance and is a passionate leader that uses his talents to ensure that his team reach their greatest possible potential.
In this chat we spoke about how to be an inspiration, the importance of investing in youth talent and how to find your purpose.
Authored by Dr Ahmed Abbassi, Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development at the Qatar Stars League and the co-founder of Qatar Solar Energy W.L.L.
We are all born with a life purpose. Finding your purpose is the secret to happiness. You cannot live a life of fulfilment or inspiration without understanding your purpose in life. While it may be difficult to ascertain what our purpose in life is, as it requires deep introspection, it is critical for the success of your business and life that you do so.
My life purpose is to inspire people to inspire others to do great for the world. As the Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development at Qatar Stars League, as well as the cofounder of Qatar Solar Energy, I believe in the power of good leadership to change the world. I enjoy leading change. Working with a great group of people to build a better norm is what I love to do. By challenging the status quo and leading through inspiration, I believe businesses and leaders can change the world for the better.
Leaders are inherently change-makers. We need leaders to inspire people who then go on to inspire others. In this regard, leadership is a cyclical process. Inspiration has a flow-on effect. However, to lead through inspiration, you need to have a clear understanding of your purpose. Nobody will follow someone who doesn’t believe in what they are doing, nor will anyone purchase from a business who has no clear reason to create their products and services.
I challenge you to ask yourself: What is your ‘why’? How can you better understand yourself? How can you discover your purpose?
Inspiration through action
Inspiring others is simpler than a lot of people think. It’s not about PR or speeches. It’s about your actions aligning with your purpose. You can inspire people by doing something, like raising your hand to volunteer, or by doing nothing at all. If you are in a situation in which someone is asking you to do something that doesn’t align with your values, by saying no you can inspire others to remain true to themselves and their morals. The actions you perform everyday are what inspire people, not a single speech or event.
To inspire someone to be happy all you have to do is simply smile or compliment them. Simple actions, rather than grand gestures or presentations, can have the largest impact. Then consider how after you have made somebody feel happy, they will then go on to make others feel the same way. This flow-on effect is why inspiration is so critical not only in life, but also in business settings.
Consider the same idea as a small to medium-sized business owner. By recognising and acknowledging the hard work one team member has made in your business, it can lead to them motivating and inspiring the rest of the team. A simple word of encouragement as a leader can reap large rewards and help your business continue to improve each day.
Research performed by the team at Zenger Folkman have found there are significant negative effects associated with uninspiring leaders. Leaders who are uninspiring have an overall leadership effectiveness score of 9% and have a 93% probability of being some of the least productive leaders. This is why leading through inspiration is so important.
There are a million ways to inspire someone as long as you are true to your purpose. If you have no purpose there will be no inspiration. So, how can you find your purpose?
Finding your purpose
If there’s something we can choose in life that is important, it’s our purpose. As a child we are inquisitive. We are always asking about how things work and why things happen the way they do. We are born with a desire to find purpose in everything that we do. Yet, when we grow up, we often lose this desire to find answers and instead, place greater value in making our parents happy or making money. When we become adults, we focus more on the ‘how’ and ‘what’ rather than the ‘why’. If you understand the ‘why’ in what you are doing, then your life will become purposeful.
To find your purpose you need to alter your perspective. Your life’s purpose is bigger than your family’s opinions – it’s something that sets a fire within you. It brings you joy, meaning and fulfilment to everything that you do. Ask yourself: What is my vision of the world? What is my cause? Why do I do the things that I do? Through understanding who you are, you can understand your purpose better.
Your purpose has to have a global significance to it. It can’t just be centred on yourself – you don’t just exist for yourself. While the world is great in many ways, it is also deeply flawed. Environmental, social, and governmental issues permeate society and it’s our role as leaders to help change this. Understanding your ‘why’ is not an easy or quick journey. It requires challenging yourself and your idea of the world. But, when you do understand your purpose, you can achieve so much more by yourself and through your business.
Sometimes, we already know our purpose, yet it feels unattainable or there are barriers to achieving it. Let’s say your life purpose is to save lives but you’re afraid of needles. Your purpose doesn’t change but the ‘how’ may change. Instead of becoming a doctor or nurse for example, maybe you will go into mental health support work. Your fear of needles hasn’t prevented you from your purpose, you are still saving lives, simply how you achieve it has shifted. Always remember, you can adapt the ‘how’ to your purpose.
Finding your individual purpose is essential to finding the purpose for your business. Your business’s purpose is far more important than your vision or mission. The vision is where you want to go but the purpose is why you want to go there. Before starting a business ask yourself – why do I want to create this business?
Understanding and communicating your purpose is fundamental to the success of your business. A few years ago, Qatar Stars League moved away from vision and mission, to become focused on our purpose. Previously, we had the vision to become one of the top three leagues in Asia by 2020. However, once we achieved that we had nowhere else to go and nothing to strive for. This is when we shifted our mindset to consider our purpose. Now, our purpose is to deliver high-quality, competitive football entertainment – we want to entertain the audience. By shifting to a purpose mindset, we have given our team more joy, fulfilment and inspiration every time they step out on to the pitch.
Purpose is at the core of everything. The more you understand your purpose the better you perform as a company, individual, family member, football team and government.
Investing in youth
As business leaders, we have a responsibility to invest in and develop young talent to provide a better future. While I believe it’s about the person you’re hiring not necessarily the age of them that is important, I do think it’s valuable to take a chance on the youth. Expecting young employees to have years of experience isn’t fair or an option. You need to be able to identify talent within young people rather than simply base your employee selection on experience alone.
In football, talent scouts play critical roles in identifying and finding youth talent. The best talent scouts have what we call ‘a diamond eye’. As a business owner, this is what you need to develop to maintain long-term business success. Like any skill, your ‘diamond eye’ will only get stronger over time.
To locate youth talent, you need to consider not only who they will be and their strengths in ten years’ time, but also what your business will be like in ten years. You need to understand the trends in your business sector, what you will be doing in the future and how your business will operate. You can’t have the vision of a person ten years in time if you don’t have a vision of the world ten years in time first.
By helping to develop youth talent you can help build financial sustainability within your organisation. Your business will slowly fade away if you don’t bring fresh blood into your organisation. The youth are the future, meaning they are your business’s future. Investing in them, teaching them and, most importantly, letting them fail is key to ensuring you can create a strong and resilient business team. By developing youth talent, we as leaders can help create a better future, economy, and world.
A good leader always has to think of those who will replace them. Invest in the youth and believe in them, so you can build a person to replace you and ensure long-term business success.
Finding your purpose as an individual and business owner is paramount to your success. Everyone is born with a purpose, and it is our responsibility to discover it to create a better world and future. Just as it is our responsibility to uncover our purpose, it is also our responsibility to invest in and develop the youth. Through creating great leaders, we can enact real and positive global change.
As business leaders, our purpose and actions can inspire those around us. By being an inspirational and purpose-led leader, you can build a sustainable business that reaps long-term success. Understanding your ‘why’ will unlock new and exciting opportunities for you and your business.
So, what is your purpose?