Are You A Leader On A Mission?

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style

~Maya Angelou

On the morning of September 22, 1989, I got in my car and took about a 20-mile drive to the townhouse where my family and I lived in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the morning after Hugo, a Category 5 hurricane, passed through the night before. We had moved inland the day before so as to hopefully avoid the brunt of the storm. I went to see what, if anything, was left.

To this day, I will never forget what I saw as I approached the front door to our home. It was the rear bumper of a car. It was on our front steps leaning against the door. It had a bumper sticker on it that read, “I’m on a mission from God”. I’m not sure what the mission or the message was, but I was grateful that we suffered only minor damage and had fared much better than most.

While most people’s experiences in leadership may not resemble a hurricane like Hugo, the bumper sticker does provoke an interesting thought. What is your mission or purpose as a leader? What type of impact are you making? Your life in leadership is not meant to be lived in a vacuum where you are only in it for yourself. Take a few moments and ponder these questions about your leadership. Discover for yourself what your mission is as a leader.

What am I doing as a leader that adds value?

As a leader, you are either adding or subtracting value to those around you. Are your contributions, however great or small, making a difference in the lives of those whom you work with and for your organization? Think about it and take stock of what you are doing. Are you only in it for what you can receive or for notoriety?

If you are going to be a leader on a mission and make a positive difference in your organization then you must be a leader who is intentional about adding value. If not, you are only subtracting.

What am I doing as a leader that will outlast me?

One of the greatest things you can do as a leader is to devote yourself to causes greater than yourself. It’s when you get your eyes off of yourself and onto causes that can change your world that you begin to feel the impact of your leadership. You can best fulfill your mission as a leader when you make your mission less about you and more about others.

If you are going to be a leader on a mission it’s important that you identify what those causes are and how you can do your part to leave the world a little better than you found it.

What am I doing as a leader that fulfills me?

Your fulfillment as a leader is not found in selfish acts or by embracing a ‘what’s in it for me’, attitude. Your mission in leadership is not a call to self-importance but a call to a life of selfless serving. The reason most people in leadership are unfulfilled is that their focus is inward rather than outward. What direction is your focus?

“The two most important days in your life,” Mark Twain said, “is the day you are born and the day you find out why’. And this is the secret to understanding your mission as a leader.

When you discover you’re ‘why’ and understand your mission, then your life as a leader will be the most rewarding experience of your life.

Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickerson
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences.


  1. What am I doing as a leader that will outlast me? This is the one that touches me the most. I am working on three projects that are my passions in life. I am trying to train and develop the teams so that I can pass the torch and trust they will keep it going when it is my time to walk away and enjoy my twilight time. Great story Doug Thank you.

  2. “When you discover your ‘why’ and understand your mission, then your life as a leader will be the most rewarding experience of your life” (Dickerson, 2017). Oh my, Doug – what a powerful statement! What an inspiring article :)

    Yes, yes, yes! The last question listed here is critical: the truest of leaders – the most successful leaders – are those who have discovered that their passion resides in that, too. In turn, they produce the most beautiful and amazing organizations… through genuine selflessness~

  3. It’s okay to give and be selfless. However, there is always a line to where you don’t cross. You need your ego, you need to eat, and there are way too many takers out there that will use your giving nature. Given the opportunity, they will drain you completely leaving as an empty husk.

    Be positive and always know where your line is.



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