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Executive Leadership: The Secret to Feeling Fulfilled Through Meaningful Contribution

volunteering- handing out a food box -contribution in leadership post

Contribution is one of the greatest drivers in our lives, especially in executive leadership. It pushes us to look outside of ourselves and find meaning in what we do. Contribution is the secret to feeling like we’ve made a difference and served a purpose beyond just our own needs. This is one of the key reasons I became an executive coach and consultant, to see my clients succeed is one of my greatest joys.

Understanding the Importance of Contribution in Leadership

For me, contribution is extremely meaningful. Whenever I’m able to use my skills and efforts to help others or work towards something bigger than myself, it gives me a sense of satisfaction and energy. I feel like I’m living up to my full potential when my work is contributing to positive change, like making better leaders for a better world.

Key Ingredients for Meaningful Contribution

But not all acts of contribution are created equal when it comes to making us feel truly fulfilled. Certain key ingredients elevate giving from just checking a box to a source of deep engagement and purpose:

Aligning with Core Values

The cause you are contributing to has to resonate with your core values and life experiences in a meaningful way. When you have a strong personal conviction about the importance of the mission, your contribution feels more significant. I have had the thrill of working with some of the greatest leaders, and recently got to celebrate one of them asking for a $30k raise and getting it! As a mom, a high performing financial leader, and a terrific individual, she is leveling up every month! Being a guide and witness to her growth and development is exciting and super rewarding to me.

Utilizing Unique Strengths

What are your unique strengths?  These are where you want to focus so that you can contribute in a way that taps into your natural talents and feels easy. My mom says I was bossy to my friends when I was little and that I liked to play school and teach.  I am still a little bossy and I love to teach! Think about what you loved to do as a kid, and tap into that feeling of play, see if that sparks your passion to give to others again.

Mentoring Opportunities

One of the things I still do is look for opportunities to mentor others. This personal connection gives me such a sense of fulfillment. Currently, I am a mentor at the Chicago Executive Club and The Chicago Innovation Society and have been for several years. Mentoring is very different from coaching and I love it, seeing my mentees thrive and blossom is a win-win! It’s also an easy way to contribute to my city and the world of work, which I hope to elevate with more great leaders.

Real-Life Example of Effective Leadership Contribution

One leader who embodies this principle is Melinda Gates. Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she has aligned her contributions with her core values and strengths in supporting women’s rights. She recently donated $1B “to groups working in the United States to protect the rights of women and advance their power and influence”. You can read her NYT article here. Her mission to create lasting change in areas such as global health and education will live on long past her days of volunteering her time and energy. 

Make Your Contribution Count

When we contribute in a thoughtful, intentional way, we can change lives – including our own. We feel invigorated, connected to something greater, and like we are living out our unique purpose. Isn’t that what we all want from life?

Contribution may be a drive we are all hard-wired to crave, but we have to be strategic to make sure we are giving in a way that is truly meaningful to us. Then the joy, fulfillment, and impact can be our legacy.

Think about your current contributions and assess how they align with these key ingredients. Seek out opportunities that truly resonate with you, using your unique strengths, how can you make a sustainable impact? Don’t know where to start? Ask your mom (or a childhood friend) if they remember what you used to do as a child and see if that sparks some creativity!  

Your gifts are waiting to make a difference. Let them shine!

Marilyn Dollar- Woman sitting at desk
Marilyn Dollar - The Woman's Coach

They call me the C-Suite Whisperer.

High-Performance Coach For Leaders and CEO’s. It’s time to embrace your true identity and grow into your next achievement!

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