How Leaders Inspire - Start with Why - Simon Sinek
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How Leaders Inspire People

Why are some people able to defy the odds and accomplish so much more than others who have access to resources or are in a better position to succeed?

Why was Martin Luther King Jr. the man who led the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s?

Why were the Wright brothers able to pave the way for a manned flight when others were better qualified, funded, and equipped?

The answer to these questions has more to do with what these leaders believed than what they did. People are attracted to people who believe what they believe (with conviction and passion).

All the great and inspiring leaders in their fields think, act, and communicate in a specific way that is different from others.

There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it.“ Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is a business writer I respect. In “Start with Why,” Sinek talks about the “Why” of business. He talks about how great business leaders focus on the WHY as much as they do on the HOW and the WHAT.

The point Sinek makes is that most business leaders talk about WHAT they do (the products and services their company makes) instead of communicating WHY their company exists. Describing anything other than WHY the company exists or WHY you exist as a leader, lacks inspiration and challenges alignment.

The book also talks about the HOW – the process they use in the production, which sets them apart. Toyota, for example, made a name for itself by focusing on the HOW, which comes only after knowing your WHY.

“Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?” Simon Sinek

The Golden Circle as Described by Simon Sinek

Most people think, act, and communicate from the outside in: WHAT – HOW – WHY. They know what it is they do, and then they determine how best to do that.  As an afterthought, some people then consider why they are doing it.

Great Leaders think, act, and communicate from the inside out: WHY – HOW – WHAT. They first understand WHY they exist, the emotional core of what drives them, Then they determine HOW to reach that goal, and lastly, they do what they do.

What you do should simply serve as proof of what you believe.

Steve Jobs of Apple Computer focused on WHY to Inspire People

It takes a rare business leader, someone like Steve Jobs, to focus and talk about the WHY of business.

Steve Jobs was an exceptional leader because he focused on the WHY of Apple – the WHY of iPod, iPhone, and iPad. That’s why his presentations and product launches were always the most significant events of the year.

1. Start with WHY = “Ultimately, why are innovating?”
2. HOW will we bring our purpose to life through innovation?
3. WHAT will we offer that symbolizes your purpose?

Apple could have said, “We make great computers; want to buy one?”

Instead, they say, “We believe in thinking differently. Everything we do is challenging the status quo, and we do that by making our products beautiful, simple, and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers; want to buy one?”

Apple reverses the order of information, and people buy from them because it taps into their emotional connection, the WHY.


All Employee’s Benefit through Understanding Your WHY

Now you see why the WHY of your business is so important. But it’s not just about attracting customers – the WHY of your business also helps you find motivated and committed employees.

“You don’t hire for skills; you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.“

“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them. They hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job, and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”

“Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline, and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down.” Simon Sinek

Do you have problems with executive alignment, employee engagement, and customer feedback?

Are you sharing the WHY of your vision, company, and products?  Or, are you focusing on the HOW and WHY of your vision, company, and products?

Do you need help organizing your thoughts, staying on-track, and achieving targets?  Read my blog post on using Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner.

Summary: 3 Steps to Finding Your WHY to Inspire People

1. Look Backwards
If you want to find the WHY of your business, you have to look backward, for the original motivation for starting the business.

2. Look Outward
Then, you have to look outward, and seek out feedback from your customers as to why they choose to buy products from you or hire your services.

3. Look Inward
Finally, you will have to look inward.

A. What’s your vision for the world? Making a profit is not a vision.
B. What is the core belief or value system that your business holds on to?

When you succeed in finding the WHY of your business, you will be on the right track to being able to develop a sustainable Vision and Strategic Plan.

Truth At Work Louisville Round Table Members knows their “Why” and they help each other stay on track and true to their mission.


2 Things You Can Implement Immediately to Inspire Action in People

1. Have a Clear Vision, Mission, and Values System: Inspiring leaders know the most effective way to inspire followers is to articulate what they believe in, why they exist, and where they are going.

Followers need something tangible to grasp as they make decisions on what and who to follow.  Paul Harstrom

2.  Invest Time in Good Communication: Inspiring leaders understand the impact of excellent communication, and how it can be a catalyst for growth.

Looking for more strategies that will help you become a more inspirational leader? Maybe it’s time to join a Truth At Work Louisville peer advisory group.



Who do you know who is clearly identifying a cause and pursuing it passionately? What do their followers look like?

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