As the frosty air tingled with the anticipation of Christmas this week, a different kind of warmth radiated from a burgeoning global movement: purpose-driven leadership. This season of giving ignited a spotlight on brands and individuals weaving positive impact into the very fabric of their success. They understand that true leadership transcends profit margins, embracing a responsibility to create a future where hope shines brighter than ever.
Across the globe, Christmas traditions shimmer with local hues. In South Africa, vibrant carols in Xhosa and Zulu resonate through streets, celebrating unity and joy. In Mexico, Nacimientos depict the holy family amidst vibrant flora, echoing the country’s rich biodiversity. These diverse expressions remind us of that purpose, like Christmas cheer, transcends borders and resonates with all cultures.
Purpose-driven brands are tapping into this universal yearning for good. Patagonia, the outdoor giant, champions environmental activism, dedicating 1% of sales to grassroots groups. TOMS, the shoe company, embodies “one for one,” providing a pair of shoes for every purchase, ensuring children in need walk tall. These brands prove that success can be measured not just in dollars, but in the positive ripples they create.
Leaders embodying this spirit illuminate diverse sectors. Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai continues to empower girls through education, ensuring their voices are heard and destinies fulfilled. In Denmark, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen champions renewable energy and social welfare, prioritizing the well-being of all citizens. These individuals prove that leadership is not about wielding power, but about serving a greater purpose.
Still other lesser-known, but equally inspiring, examples of purpose-driven leaders and brands who were lighting the way this Christmas included:
• Jacinda Ardern, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, who led with empathy and compassion, steering her country through the Christchurch mosque shootings and the Covid-19 pandemic, prioritizing mental health and community well-being.
• Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador, whose unconventional approach to crime reduction, focusing on education and social programs, has led to a significant drop in violence and gang activity.
• Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmental activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement, Maathai empowered rural women to plant trees, restoring degraded lands and fighting climate change.
Similarly, we are seeing more brands than ever weaving purpose into their very DNA, including:
• Ørsted, a Danish energy company: Once a coal giant, Ørsted transformed into a global leader in offshore wind energy, demonstrating the power of ambitious sustainability goals.
• Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch chocolate brand: Dedicated to ending child labor in the cocoa industry, Tony’s Chocolonely sources ingredients ethically and advocates for fair trade practices.
• Sea2See, an Italian eyewear company: Sea2See recycles plastic ocean waste into trendy sunglasses, empowering customers to be conscious consumers and protect marine ecosystems.
These are just a few examples of the countless individuals and brands who embody the spirit of Christmas year-round. By shining a light on their stories, we can inspire others to find their own purpose and contribute to a better world.
Practicing Spreading Christmas Cheer Through Volunteering
Every year the twinkling lights adorn our streets and carols fill the air; Christmas awakens a spirit of generosity within us. This year, as with years past, while exchanging gifts brings joy, there’s an even deeper satisfaction found in giving back to those who need it most. Volunteering during the holiday season isn’t just about checking a box on our to-do list; it’s about weaving threads of kindness into the fabric of our community, spreading warmth during winter’s chill. This year my colleagues were volunteering at food pantries, donating to their local charities, singing carols to elders in nursing homes, and serving meals to the homeless.
Imagine the faces of children lighting up as they received a carefully wrapped present from a stranger. Or picture the gratitude in the eyes of an elderly person enjoying a hot meal another stranger served with a friendly smile. These moments, fueled by volunteerism, become cherished memories for both the recipient and the volunteer.
But the benefits of Christmastime volunteering extend far beyond smiles and gratitude. Sharing one’s time and skills strengthens connection to the community, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. It allows one to step outside their own daily routine and witness the struggles and triumphs of others, expanding their perspective and building empathy.
Furthermore, volunteering can combat holiday stress and bring a renewed sense of joy to one’s own life. The act of giving, whether it’s wrapping gifts at a toy drive or serving meals at a homeless shelter, releases endorphins, leading to a natural high and a boosted mood. Volunteers might even find themselves rediscovering talents they forgot they possessed, leading to personal growth and satisfaction.
So, as we navigate the hustle and bustle of the holidays, remember that the most meaningful gift we can give is ourselves. Here are some ways to volunteer this holiday season:
• Deliver meals to homebound individuals: Organizations like Meals on Wheels depend on volunteers to spread holiday cheer and ensure no one goes hungry on Christmas Day.
• Assist at a local toy drive: Help sort and wrap donated toys, bringing smiles to children who might not otherwise receive a gift.
• Offer your skills at a community center: Whether it’s cooking, crafts, or administrative work, your skills can be put to good use at local centers serving those in need.
• Donate blood: The holiday season often sees a decline in blood donations. Giving the gift of life is a truly impactful way to volunteer during this time.
The possibilities are endless, and every act of kindness, big or small, ripples outward, making your community a brighter, warmer place to be. So, this holiday season, step beyond the gift wrapped in ribbons and embrace the gift of giving back. Volunteer your time, talents, and compassion, and discover the profound joy that comes from spreading Christmas cheer one helping hand at a time.
Let’s also remember that the Christmas spirit isn’t confined to a single season. It’s a wellspring of compassion and action that can fuel positive change throughout the year. This Christmas let’s embrace the true meaning of purpose-driven leadership and build a world where the glow of hope and change shines brighter than any holiday decoration.
The Christmas spirit whispers the power of even the smallest actions to create waves of positive change. For purpose-driven leaders and brands, this isn’t a seasonal sentiment, but a guiding principle. They leverage their resources and influence to tackle critical issues like climate change, poverty, and inequality. In doing so, they offer a beacon of hope, demonstrating that business can be a force for good.
While we gather with loved ones this Christmas, let us also remember the global community. Let us celebrate the purposeful leaders and brands lighting the path towards a more just and sustainable future. May their commitment inspire us all to find our own purpose, use our gifts to make a difference, and spread the light of hope not just for a few weeks, but throughout the year.
As we reflect on the past year of interviews with purpose-driven guests on The Caring Economy, learn from each other. They remind us of the potential we have to volunteer to also make a positive difference in our communities.