The Power of the WHY
There are times a theme runs through the course of a week, and you feel there is a message waiting to be heard. Such is this week. It started off with my remembrance of a “train to concept” initiative I launched in my hospitality years, which simply weaves the big picture of our vision and why we do the things we do throughout the organization. This focus ensures that all tasks and departments have a congruency of vision and are all moving towards the common goal, not away from it. For example, you cannot go into a PF Chang’s with the vision that you will convert it into a Panda Express. Two distinct and exclusive concepts, two different visions – it will not work. (No disrespect to either of these successful franchises).
This Tuesday I took part in Lolly Daskal’s #leadfromwithin Twitter chat, in where the topic was “Leadership Vision”. There were many great ideas and thoughts put out there that underscored a vision’s role in securing success and engagement. Many people felt that leadership vision was the heart of achieving goals and synergy throughout the organization.
Then today I listened to the popular TEDTalk video from Simon Sinek. He was expounding the virtues of leaders that inspire action – overall a great talk mind you – and he started with what was called the “Golden Circle”. Simon discovered that the most inspiring leaders don’t sell what or how they do things, but WHY they do what they do.
The running theme in all three of these thoughts is this – the bigger the concept, the vision, the WHY, and the more that a leader promotes it, then the more successful the leader’s organization will be.
WHY is the purpose. Knowing why an organization exists gives a stronger sense of meaning and belonging to everyone involved than does a general statement. For example a statement of “We want our telecommunication service to improve the lives in every village in the world” will have a more far reaching buy-in than “We make great smart phones.” The leader that delivers the first purpose will have no problem rallying their organization around this mission statement.
WHY is the concept. Having even a small “Why” gives your teams a framework in which to operate, innovate, and maneuver. Being the most kid and family-friendly dentistry franchise will keep your practice from having dentists that have a poor rapport with children. It holds everyone close to the core values, but gives guard rails to prevent any wasted efforts or undermining behavior.
WHY is the vision. Having a big enough vision and placing that in front of your people each day will get them to visualize what everyone is working towards. It’s not just dangling the carrot; it’s the self-realization that if a vision is fleshed out, believed, moved towards, and emphasized, it will be achieved in due time.
WHY is the answer. When critics scoff at your purpose, the Why will keep everyone from being discouraged and stay on track. When staff get tired or unfocused, the Why will motivate them to dig in more and not take the easy path out. When competition threatens to out innovate or outspend you, your Why will prevent you from looking over your shoulder. When you yourself feel the pressure of the daily responsibilities, your Why will allow you to see beyond yourself and look out for those who are relying on you to lead them, both staff and customers alike.
Great leaders have a purpose, a vision, a WHY. Great leaders also give a purpose, a vision, a WHY.
How is your WHY? Is it big enough?