Starting With Your Purpose Wins!

What is the difference between an average leader and a great leader – the answer is WHY?

by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

In a TED presentation by Simon Sinek a key question was asked – “How can some companies achieve things that others do not, when they have access to the same talent, resources, markets etcetera?”

The answer is to this lies in a question.  Great leaders focus on the Why?, and not the What? they start from the inside and work outwards.  Let’s look at the picture below, the “Golden Circle”.

It explains why some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t.

The “Golden Circle”

Golden Circle

Everybody knows “what” they do 100%. Some know how they do it. But very, very few people or organizations know WHY they do it.  The “Why” is the why you do it, why you get out of bed in the morning, and why people should care.  It is not about making a profit – that is a result, not the why.

If you are inspired you begin with the why in mind. Inspired organizations and people all think, act, and communicate from the inside out.

There is an important point here – people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This reflects an important point about when people make decisions.  When a person makes any decision they always make an emotional decision, and then follow it up with a rationalisation.  As such emotion makes people act, and logic makes people think.

So if you lead with the ‘what’, you lead with information, features and benefits and facts and figures  it can drive understanding, but it doesn’t  drive behaviour.  To drive behaviour you lead with the ‘why’, you lead with emotion which attracts and stimulates people to make a decision.

But if you don’t’ know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get someone to buy into it, and be loyal, or want to be a part of what it is that you do.

Let’s look at how this ‘Golden Circle’ can be applied, using Apple as an example.

The Uninspiring – Outside-In Approach

WHAT: We make great computers

HOW: We make beautifully designed, easy to use and user friendly computers

WHY: Want to buy one?

This is uninspiring and it typical of what most businesses do.  We tell people what we do, how we are different and then expect some kind of desired behaviour to happen.

The Inspiring – Inside-Out Approach

WHY: Everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently.

HOW: The way that we challenge the status quo is that we design beautiful computers that simple to use and user-friendly.

WHAT: Want to buy one?

Here we have said the same things, we have just reversed the order – and you can feel the impact.

Ramifications for Leaders – Leading with ‘Why?’

As leaders,  the goal is not just to get people to buy that need what you have, but to believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job, but who believe what you believe. If you hire people who just need a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people that believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.

Leaders are those who hold a position of power or authority. But being a leader is not a noun, its a verb – leading. Those who lead are those who inspire us. Whether within organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. Not for them, but for ourselves.

And it’s those who start with why, who have the ability to inspire those around them or find others to inspire them.

Tell them why you do what you do

Don’t tell people what you do, tell them why you do what you do.

Let me give you an example using my business, Growth & Profit Solutions.

WHY: Why do I what I do?  I help people to grow, realise their potential and to enable them to do that for others!  I get up every day and work with people to realise their potential, to help them realise that of others and to create a virtuous cycle in doing so.

HOW: I partner with clients to design customised development programmes that develop the peoples’ skills and capabilities in helping them to grow and raise their performance, to share their learnings and experience with others in resolving challenges and capitalising on opportunities, and to bring passion into what they do.

WHAT: Would you like to make such a difference for yourself, for others, and for your company?

For me, the thought that what I do can positively affect people far over and beyond those who I work with – someone else I may never know, and even four, five or six times removed – is exciting, rewarding and deeply satisfying.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life (Confucius) – I am truly fortunate to be in this position, and even more fortunate because I can help other people to choose for themselves.

So the question here is not what do you, but why do you do what you do?

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

3 Steps for Creating Meaning

What can we do to make work a place people want to be?

Too often we look at work as a place we go to, and where we can be found from Monday to  Friday for eight to nine hours a day.  This perspective, although true for the workplace in times gone by, is no longer valid or useful today.

Work or Vocation

Amy Wrzesniewski of Harvard Business School carried out a study of cleaning staff in a hospital. She was surprised at how people the viewed the same job differently. Some saw it as way to provide a pay check to pay the bills, while others considered their work to be a true calling. The difference lay in whether or not a worker had strayed from their formal job description and become involved in meaningful interactions and relationships with patients and visitors. Those who had done this found greater meaning in their work.

As one of the workers explained to Wrzesniewski, “I do everything I can to promote the healing of patients. Part of that is about creating clean and sterile spaces in which they can recover, but it also extends to anything else I can possibly do to facilitate healing.” When these workers identified with being a part of the overall care team, it completely transformed their work and identity.

Transactional or Transformational Staff

The two approaches above highlight the differences in the relationship your organization can have with your staff.

  • Transactional – here the focus is on being paid to do the work. Typically you have employees who show up to punch a time clock and who give only a fraction of their energy and effort to the organization’s mission.
  • Transformational – here the focus between the employee and the organization is on the relationship. The employees see meaning in what they do, and the employees go over and beyond what they need to do as they see what they do as contributing to something that is greater than just what they do.

Work for More Than a Living

Gallup conducted research on this topic. When workers across the United States were asked whether their lives were better off because of the organization they worked for, a mere 12 percent claimed that their lives were significantly better. The vast majority of employees felt their company was a detriment to their overall health and well-being.

Transactional relationships make it easy for companies to work someone to the point of burnout, knowing they can hire the next person in line. Everything from organizational hierarchies to compensation structures sends a simple message: you are replaceable.

Organizations need to move from a transactional approach to a transformational approach. We want engaged staff. The reality is this: what’s good for an employee is in the organization’s best interest as well. If you show up for work fully charged, it increases your engagement and leads to better interactions with your colleagues and customers. This is good for your peers, the people you serve, and the long-term interests of the organization.

A 2013 study of more than 12,000 workers worldwide found that employees who derive meaning and understand the importance of their work are more than three times as likely to stay with an organization. Author Tony Schwartz described how this one element has “the highest single impact of any variable” in a study that looked at many elements of a great workplace. Meaningful work was also associated with 1.7 times higher levels of overall job satisfaction. All of this delivers valuable benefits to the organization including the bottom-line.

So What Can You Do

Make your work, and that of your colleagues and report, a purpose – not a place. Help them understand what the greater purpose of the organization is, how they contribute to it, and how they can determine their progress in doing so.  You need to repeat this message continually, and you know they have begun to get it when they can articulate it for themselves.  Make the message clear, consistent and concise in language that they can both understand and relate to. Look to catch people doing the right things, and publicise their success. Most of all be prepared to let go so that they can work in a way that can transform themselves and your organization in successfully serving your customers.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.