Insight article

How great leaders inspire action: start with ‘Why’

We subscribe heavily here at The Storytellers to Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’. If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, take a look at this picture which articulates it pretty well. He also does an excellent Ted Talk on the subject

The principle of this is that what inspires people is not just your brand, product and service, and the attributes and benefits of these. It’s more about Purpose: why we are here. Beyond making money, why do we exist? What’s our ‘raison d’être’? How is our organisation contributing to a higher purpose in society at large? As humans we are sociable beings who seek to feel that we add value to people’s lives, not just plugging away in a vacuum to service an organisation’s bank balance. Our customers, customers’ customers and colleagues can make us feel inspired or proud about our company through the way we act and behave, but equally feel bad when we don’t do the right thing. That matters to us.

And in a saturated market, where businesses offer the same products and services, something beyond price, value and brand will be the key differentiator. Consumers are savvy, with a wealth of information at their fingertips. Switching brands can be done at the click of a mouse and the decision to do so well-informed. After all, a brand’s reputation isn’t what you say about yourself; it’s about what others say about you, and social media and the internet has made this highly transparent. Twitter and TripAdvisor are just two examples. Sure, for many businesses there’s an argument that the differentiating factor is about their people: their consistency in providing excellent customer service in delivering the brand promise and the relationships they build with their customers to build the trust and loyalty that’s so hard to retain. For Gen Y,Z and the millenials especially though, what an organisation actually stands for is the Big Deal. And if they don’t experience this, authentically, on joining an organisation (business practices, behaviours and so on), they will quickly become disillusioned and leave (HR Directors, take note how honest you are when articulating your EVP!)

Leaders can build trust, confidence and pride in their teams by impressing why we are here at a macro level, but so too at a micro level. Telling their personal Story: ‘why am I, as a leader, here?’ is a way of building personal trust and authenticity, which are important elements of followship.

This reinforces the need for a clear corporate narrative that links together the Why, How and What in a really compelling way. Those businesses which have this in place and live by it every single day typically attract and retain key talent, have a clear and compelling brand proposition, more effective leaders, manage change better, a more engaged workforce and are more productive as a result. And as a result of this they will enjoy greater success.

Simon Sinek, we salute you.

Nailia Tasseel