Any person or organization can explain what they do; some can explain how they are different or better; but very few can clearly articulate why.
My friends, you’ll more than likely always know how to do the former two actions, but I’m urging you to learn the latter — because, everything starts with why. That’s what Simon Sinek — strategic communicator and author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action — wants you to know. I just finished his book, and he inspired me to think in a way I hadn’t before, to inspire those I lead directly and indirectly in a new way. I realize that not everyone can take the “why” approach — some people just aren’t wired that way, others’ business models can’t thrive — but there are definitely insights that individuals can take and apply to their professional (and personal) lives to be better leaders, in any role.
The Essence of Start With Why
THIS is the norm. Companies use manipulation to get consumers to buy their products. Think about your leadership style: do you use manipulation to get your staff to complete tasks and projects? If so, you are not fostering loyalty through employees — people who are manipulated will leave you the moment a better position (or salary) comes their way!
THIS is the alternative. Companies such as Apple, Harley Davidson and Southwest Airlines usewhy to inspire consumers and their employees.
My first major internship was in Los Angeles. It wasn’t paid. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have a job on the side.
Yet, I went…everyday.
I had my own personal reasons, but my supervisor inspired me daily — how? She (and her colleagues) emphasized that everything they assigned to me was to help me become more experienced and a better candidate in the future. My own motivations aside, their concern and “why” pushed me through my four-month internship.
Realistically, Apple could be like every other electronics company; essentially, it is. Yet, Apple tells its story like no other. Apple wasn’t the first to come out with a MP3 player, a desktop or a laptop. Still, the company has managed to cultivate a lifestyle that people believe in and want to be apart of because what Apple believes in, challenging the status quo, is what its loyalists believe in, too.
Very few companies, or leaders, can explain why they do what they do. That is a problem, because if you don’t know why you do something, neither will anyone else. Inspire others organically by starting with why. And if you don’t know why, figure it out. Starting with why will take you much farther than starting with what, or how; but, make sure you have the what and how to back up the why.