Why We Choose to Lead

By Michelle Crawford, 2019 Williamson Leadership Program Alumnus

To lead is a verb, it’s something you do.  It’s about the provision of guidance and direction, and is an intentional act.

As a noun, purpose relates to the reason for which something is done.

Inequality and injustice are an ongoing challenge for Australia and beyond. Against this backdrop, 2019 Williamson Leadership Program participants have been challenged to reflect on the act of leading.  We have been provided with privileged access to a diverse range of guests and experiences that have provided opportunities for growth, often through discomfort.

Leaders are in significant positions of power.  How we act, practice self-care, the decisions we make, the direction we provide and our purpose impacts others.

Williamson brings together leaders from diverse backgrounds and it has been clear throughout the year that there is one strong cord that binds us.  We all share a keen desire to master our craft as leaders so as to positively impact the complex world that is constantly changing.

While we seek to build on our experience, gifts, talents and innate ability to lead, we have accepted the challenge to constantly review the lens through which we look at things, and to seek out unusual voices as we lead.

A key ingredient to leading with purpose is understanding the WHY of why we choose to lead.

Exploring our own leadership through harthill.co.uk provided invaluable insight into the individual action logics which shape our actions and growth as leaders.  Exploring our immunity to change, applying adaptive leadership principles to complex challenges, along with the rich and diverse experiences throughout the year have contributed to a deeper exploration of purpose.

Throughout the year I have had cause to reflect on the leaders I have worked with and observed, along with the leader that I aspire to be.  The overwhelming insight has been – authentic.

Purpose cannot be contrived. I believe it is essential to find your passion – your raison d’être.    Throughout the year I have found that the feedback I have sought from trusted peers, colleagues and friends as contributions for the various exercises we have undertaken has been incredibly affirming, highlighting my passionate approach to leadership, while challenging me to step into the authority of leading – to own the privilege and continue on a path of purposefulness as a leader who is emotionally, intellectually and culturally relevant.

The Chinese character for LISTEN is a key marker of my desire to lead with purpose.


To seize a sense of determination as a leader takes us beyond an act and moves into measurable impact.

I’m intensely grateful for the Williamson 2019 year, and resolve to listen with my ear, eyes, heart and undivided attention as I lead with purpose.

Michelle pictured above with her Mum to whom she credits her understanding of living and leading a life of purpose.

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