Jul 142015

You May Know WHAT You Do and HOW, But Do You Know WHY?

I have just finished reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why. The message of WHY is about a way leaders can think, act, and communicate that gives them the ability to inspire those around them.

Most business owners, when asked why their customers are their customers, will say it’s because of superior quality, price, features, or service. In reality, they don’t really know why their customers are their customers. A scary thought because almost every product or service available today can be bought from someone else for about the same price, about the same quality, about the same features, and about the same level of service.

Sinek contends that there are only two ways to influence human behavior: manipulate it or inspire it. Manipulation may lead to a transaction, but not loyalty. If we don’t build loyal customers, we will provide a sale or service one time, and that may be it. Loyal customers matter most, especially in tough times. Manipulation works, but that doesn’t make it right. There is an alternative.

Sinek contends that inspiring leaders think, act, and communicate in the same way, which is opposite of the rest of us. How they do it is by following a natural golden pattern he calls The Golden Circle.

Golden CircleThe concept of The Golden Circle was inspired by the golden ratio – a simple mathematical formula that has fascinated mathematicians, biologists, architects, artists, musicians, and naturists since the beginning of history. The Golden Circle is an alternative perspective and shows how leaders are able to inspire action instead of manipulating people to act. It starts from the inside out. With Why.

Every single company knows WHAT they do. Some companies and people know HOW they do it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do it. WHY is not about making money, it’s about your purpose, cause, or belief. WHY does the company exist? WHY do you get up and go to work every day? And WHY should anyone care?

Most people go from the outside in: WHAT to HOW to WHY. For good reason – they know HOW they do something, but not WHY. Sinek provides a great example using Apple. He states that if Apple were like most other companies, their marketing message would move from the outside in, and it may sound like this:

We make great computers.
They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly.
Wanna buy one?

This is not what inspiring leaders and companies do. Below is how Apple actually communicates, from the inside out.

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo.
We believe in thinking differently.
The way we challenge the status quo is by making our
products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.
And we happen to make great computers.
Wanna buy one?

As you can see, the message starts with WHY, a purpose, cause, or belief that has nothing do with WHAT they do. People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

Leaders win hearts before minds because they start with WHY. The Golden Circle obeys the need for balance. Starting with WHY is just the beginning. Each of the pieces must be in balance and in the right order.

It all starts with Clarity. You have to know WHY you do what you do. Once you know WHY you do what you do, the question is HOW you will do it. A WHY is a belief, a HOW is the action, and the WHAT is the result of your actions. Your level of authenticity begins with the WHAT. Being authentic is important. People prefer to do business with authentic brands.

There is so much to learn about the Golden Circle and its concept. More than I can write in this newsletter. I highly recommend Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why, and suggest you view his TEDx video: How Leaders Inspire Action.

To quote Simon Sinek, “Leaders don’t have all the great ideas, they provide support for those who want to contribute. Leaders achieve very little by themselves; they inspire people to come together for the good of the group. Leaders never start with what needs to be done, leaders start with why we need to do things. Leaders inspire action.”

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