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Author's profile photo Hemang Desai

How to Develop Tomorrow’s Purpose-Driven Leaders Today

As Millennials and Gen Z – generations known for prioritizing purpose in their work – continue to enter the workforce, they are becoming more influential and intent on developing purpose-driven careers.

But purpose-driven careers require purpose-driven leaders. Leaders who can make the world a better place while still effectively advancing their own careers. Leaders who inspire people to achieve extraordinary results beyond the bottom line. Leaders who can relate to those driven by purpose, passion, and impact.

Skills-based volunteering, particularly pro bono consulting, plays a vital part in cultivating this type of leadership.

Pro bono consulting is a form of skills-based volunteering where you provide your professional skills and expertise to social sector partners. These engagements help employees gain different perspectives, build relationships, and strengthen skills such as cultural awareness, adaptability, resilience, and problem solving, which are not only beneficial for professional development but can also be applied to your personal life. When I look at these skills, I do not immediately associate them with traditional leadership styles, but they help lay the foundation for creating leaders who prioritize purpose and values.

In fact, SAP employees who have participated in the SAP Social Sabbatical program over the past 10 years said that leadership skills development was one of their top three motivators to apply.

The impact of pro bono consulting is multi-layered, with more than half of participants associating their career growth with the SAP Social Sabbatical, while others have attested that the experience provided a space for them to invest in their own personal growth and development. My own experience on Sabbatical in 2013 yielded tremendous leadership opportunities and strengthened my ability to quickly adapt to a challenging environment and within a field outside of my core area of expertise. You can read more about my reflections on my personal SAP Social Sabbatical experience in my 2013 blog here.

Some SAP employees have found that the program redefines what leadership means and made them see that shaping future leaders is not only about developing skills, but also providing inclusive spaces for everyone to safely share their ideas and actualize their capabilities. This is critical to nurture.

I have found that the SAP Social Sabbatical opens up a world of possibilities to those seeking the opportunity to improve themselves and their career development.

Skills for today and tomorrow

The ever-changing pace and growing diversity of the workforce demand leaders with skills like emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, cohesive collaboration, and adaptive thinking. According to 74% of participants, access to the Sabbatical helps to develop these types of attributes. While in the past these may not have been traditionally celebrated leadership skills, they’re what’s needed by leaders of today and tomorrow. For example, understanding multiple perspectives is a skill that builds on empathy and is one of the key elements of emotional intelligence.

Working and leading with purpose

The program plays a crucial role in building future leaders and even more so ones who ‘lead with purpose’. In today’s world, a good leader helps ensure that profit, people, and planet can all co-exist.

With 70% of employees saying that their sense of purpose is defined by their work and 56% wanting to contribute more to society, empowering people to become purpose-driven leaders by giving them opportunities to volunteer their time and expertise is essential. This is why programs like SAP Social Sabbatical are so crucial. Our best selves emerge when we share experiences that foster a sense of purpose.

To learn more about the SAP Social Sabbatical, please visit:







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