What does Apple, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King Jr. have in common? According to Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” they think, act and communicate in the same way. And it’s different from everyone else.
Sinek goes on to explain the secret ingredient to their success is the motivation behind their actions. Instead of thinking about what they do or how they do it, their focus is on the “why.” And their why is not “to make a profit;” that is a result. When using this “golden circle,” individuals and organizations should start from the inner circle of “why” and work their way out, letting it inspire the “how” and “what.” But most don’t; they work their way in, starting with what they want to do, then figuring out how to do it. Often “why” is just a brief ponder.
If you can engage employees on this deeper level, they’ll experience higher quality motivation for their work and more success in what they do. This company pride factor ensures employees that their organization cares about more than just the bottom line; they care for employees, customers and the broader world. The benefit for your organization at the simplest level is lower turnover due to increased employee satisfaction. It also has the potential for shifting your company culture to one of innovation.
Regardless of size and stature, every company should not only figure out their “why,” but market it. Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” And the same goes for employment: “The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But, if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.”
The example Sinek gives in his TED Talk is that of the plight of flight. The Wright brothers, despite not having the resources, education and notoriety that a fellow aviation pioneer had, were the first to fly. Further proof that their competitor, Samuel Pierpont Langley, had a weak why (fame and wealth) is that he quit immediately after the Wright brothers beat him to it. The Wright brothers’ team was in it for the right reasons – for the curiosity of the technology and for the excitement of the discovery. They worked tirelessly because they operated under the same beliefs as the Wright brothers.
So, if you want to build a team that will work for you with blood, sweat and tears, ask yourself: “What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?” First, figure out the why. And let it guide your how and what. Next, talk about it. Share your beliefs with the world. This is what will attract those that believe the same.
Together, what you can accomplish will be nothing short of astonishing.