In Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why,” he writes that great leaders inspire people to take action by starting with an answer to the question of “why” as opposed to “what” and “how.” A simple idea, but one that is rarely implemented.
According to Sinek, all too often leaders and organizations focus on what and how: the strategy, product or service, distribution plan, goals and objectives. However, not starting with why leads organizations to rely on manipulations in the form of price, promotions, fear, and peer pressure to find customers.
And these manipulations are popular because they work. They can lead to sales and repeat business. They won’t, however, lead to loyalty. That’s because loyalty happens when your customers come back to you even when manipulations are offered by your competitors.
“Loyalty, real emotional value, exists in the brain of the buyer, not the seller,” writes Sinek.
Organizations who clearly articulate a why that resonates with others have the potential to inspire employees to come to work, customers to purchase, and shareholders to invest.
Making money is not an answer to why, but only a result. The answer to why is much more profound and inspiring. When that why resonates with customers, they flock to and remain loyal because it becomes part of their own beliefs.
Think of Apple, Harley-Davidson and Southwest Airlines as examples of companies with a clear sense of why. All of them are able to inspire their customers because they feel an emotional connection.
I was inspired by Sinek’s book so I decided to elaborate on my own why. This why is centered on the services I offer in workplace communication, organization development and leadership. What I do in my work is based on the following beliefs I hold to be true.
This I believe . .
- The role of a great leader is not to come up with great ideas. Instead, a great leader should create an environment where great ideas can happen.
- Everyone has the capacity for leadership no matter the position within the organization.
- Leadership development should not be restricted to executives, but implemented throughout every level of the organization.
- Most people want to do their very best at work.
- More autonomy for how the work gets done leads to greater employee satisfaction and higher productivity.
- A high level of trust in the workplace is directly related to greater productivity, higher profitability and more engaged employees.
- Getting the right people focused on the right task is the most important objective for any organization to reach its goals.
- Focusing on employees first is what will make customers happy and this leads to satisfied shareholders.
- Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them. They hire motivated people with skills and inspire them.
- The biggest challenges in organizations are not business issues or technical problems, but interpersonal relationships.
- Loyalty between employees and employers is not an outdated twentieth century notion. Loyalty exists when there is mutual trust and respect.
- Organizations that focus on internal collaboration rather than competition have greater communication, innovation and trust.
- New technology breakthroughs for communicating do not eliminate the need for the basic requirements for real communication to take place.
Identifying the answer to your own why can help you navigate your personal and professional journey. This clarity around your own raison d’etre means you have a clear sense of purpose that inspires you to reach your goals and attract others to follow you.
For organizations, a compelling answer to why has the potential to build a brand that inspires and breeds loyalty among employees, customers and shareholders. And that makes good business sense.
What about you? Does your organization have a clear sense of why it is in business? If not, does it have loyal employees, customers and shareholders anyway?