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”
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.