A lot of people spend time focused on the “what” in business. We think about what we need to do today and what’s next. Leaders in the midst of a change may also be examining how their company operates. But have you ever considered your organization can “start with why?”
In his best-selling book and popular TED talk, influencer Simon Sinek explains how leaders can inspire others by starting with “why.” Your “why” defines the set of core beliefs and values that drive you. You can use those ideas to strengthen your brand.
Unpacking The “Why”?
Every individual and business has their own motivations. We all have something – a cause, belief or purpose – that influences our actions. Sinek calls this inspiration your “why.”
By defining your “why,” you get in step with your priorities. Using the lens of your core values to make decisions will empower you to find more fulfillment in your work. Leading with “why” also helps your company attract and inspire employees, partners and clients.
In “Start With Why,” Sinek explores why some companies exceed expectations and achieve success while others fail. He found that successful businesses like Apple develop and promote a vision based on their core values. When they create a new product or service, they “start with why.”
Managing Decisions With The “Golden Circle”
To illustrate how companies act on their beliefs, Sinek created a framework that he calls the “Golden Circle.” The center of this circle is the “why,” which represents an organization’s founding values or the reason they exist.
The second layer is the “how,” or the ways the company uses their “why” to create something new or more efficient. Organizations that are trying to define their place in the market are typically thinking of their “how.”
The outside of the “Golden Circle” is the “what.” These are the actions taken by organizations or individuals. Leaders can always describe the products or services they offer at their company. Individuals know their function within an organization. It is easy to identify your “what.”
Sinek found that a good amount of leaders focus mainly on those “what” elements. During transitional periods, they probably consider the “how,” but most do not give any thought to why they went into or remain in business.
Businesses that base their decisions on “what” are building on superficial, tangible factors. They tell potential customers what their products or services do. A software company might lead by establishing that they customize invoicing solutions for contractors. Some potential customers may hire this company, but this statement doesn’t establish anything about the software company’s mission.
Conversely, brands like Apple inspire consumers because they “start with why.” They create marketing campaigns that express the visions of the company. When Apple releases a new product, they don’t just focus on the product’s features in their marketing. Every campaign expresses their core values: innovation, simplicity and a commitment to excellence. With this focus, Apple has developed a clear, consistent brand image.
Carve Out Your “Why”
Leaders that start with their why deliver a different message. Listeners connect on a deeper level when the appeal is based on values. Learning to lead with your “why” will help you attract others who share the same beliefs. The “Start With Why” philosophy is applicable to any situation because we all have a purpose.
Your small business can use the pioneering of major brands like Apple to define and express your own vision. To harness the power of your “why,”start by laying out your values. Why did you go into business? If your answer is “to make money,” then ask yourself why you chose your specific line of work.
Examine your personal values and how they affect your work. What beliefs did you augment your business with? If it doesn’t seem that your purpose currently aligns with your work, consider what kind of corporate culture that you want to build. How do you want your staff and clients to feel? How would you like people to describe your company?
Potential customers and employees typically don’t buy into what your company does day to day. They admire your brand’s values and reputation. Before you can communicate why you are the best option for people to seek out, you have to define the identity of your business.
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Harrison Rogers Bio:
Harrison Rogers is the CEO of HJR Global. His passion for entrepreneurship and innovation has led to the launch of several successful companies, with several ventures ranking high on the INC 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America. Harrison’s enthusiasm for business success and his passion for education motivated him to help businesses become healthy and profitable. He has helped brand new ventures get off the ground and established businesses to return to health. Harrison is always looking for the next opportunity to be an advocate, a coach, and a partner for new, exciting ventures.
Harrison has been voted Most Influential in Valley Business, as well as Arizona Republic’s 35 under 35 and Phoenix Magazine’s 40 under 40.