Which Comes first: Leadership or Purpose?

Which Comes first?
The age old riddle of which comes first; “the chicken or the egg,” is a frustrating argument. Trying to determine which element is needed to fuel / develop / birth the next is turned into a circunever-ending debate by asking: which is needed first? Or, what is step one? When you are involved in the development of leaders, you will discover a similar dilemma - Which is needed first: Leadership or Purpose?
The “chicken or the egg” riddle is not as simple as it may first seem. Which is required first? This seems like a logical question, however, it always ends in the repetitive circular argument that has made the riddle famous. There is another question which could be asked: Which one can survive on its own?
 There is no doubt that the chicken can survive without the egg. The chicken is free to feed, seek shelter, and protect itself when necessary. In fact, many birds will leave eggs unprotected in a nest if the threat to their own survival is too great. The chicken can lay more eggs at another time – if it is still alive.
The egg on the other hand is dependant on the chicken for life support. The egg needs to be protected. The eggs needs to be sheltered and kept warm to grow. The egg is dependant on the chicken for survival.  Leadership and purpose have a similar relationship to each other as the chicken and the egg.
Purpose takes on the role of the chicken, and leadership aligns itself with the egg. Purpose can survive without the presence of leadership. Purpose can grow and survive, producing leaders when required. Leadership without purpose is just someone trying to control a crowd for no reason.
Striving for leadership in the absence of purpose is like practicing to be a Horse Show Jumping champion without any jumps or obstacles. You will merely ride circles in the arena. The answer to the question “Why?” is elusive and frustrating to many people. Purpose is the single most frequent topic in self development, life coaching and personal development programs. It is the Holy Grail of success!
Struggling to identify one’s own purpose, or indeed the purpose of a company, can be stressful frustrating and de-motivating. Many people give up the search for purpose to live out life in mediocrity. The frustration people experience is like trying to answer the “chicken or the egg” riddle – they often start by asking the wrong question!
When seeking purpose in your life you need to ask the right questions in the correct order. Asking “why” first is not the ideal question. Start your purpose search by asking “who”! Identity is a major key to discovering and understanding purpose. So, when I am asked “which comes first: Leadership or Purpose?” My answer is: “Identity.”

Read Four Steps to Discovering your Life Purpose


  1. So right John, Purpose draws Potential, Potential brings to life Destiny. Understanding you have a Purpose is the first brick on the road to Destiny!!