Rob Schachter on Purpose

Rob Schachter’s comments on yesterday’s teleconference have kept me thinking. As an organizational consultant to both businesses and nonprofits, he offered a wide perspective on leadership and purpose. He emphasized the importance of the leader paying attention both to what’s going on inside, and to what’s going on outside in the group and the wider context.

He gave a terrific little formula (which is far more than a formula) for starting a conversation about purpose with those we lead. First, say, “Here’s what I think.” Then ask, “What do you think?” And the more you can ask for individual perspectives, at least initially, the better. But the leader really needs to go first. He said, “Represent yourself, and engage as many ‘I’s’ [individuals] as you can.” This made me think about the way we often press for an early consensus out of anxiety — which can make for less ownership of the direction and goals, and unpleasant surprises later (“I thought they were on board with this…”).

He encourages the leaders he works with to ask for help from their followers, and to get feedback from them along the way: “How am I doing?” He also recommends they set individual goals for their own functioning (for example, not to get defensive in a particular meeting).

The recording of the teleconference is available. E-mail me at, and I’ll send you the link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *