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Leading from WHY

Alan Andersen

WHAT does your organization do?
HOW does it do it?
WHY does it do it?

The WHAT question is pretty easy to answer. Whether it builds widgets, disseminates information, or directly serves people, you spend your time day-to-day supporting WHAT your organization does.

The HOW question invites you to consider HOW you make the WHAT happen. It’s a list of the primary processes used to create the WHAT.

The WHY question has a much less tangible answer. It resides in the emotional framework of the organization. It’s more about feelings than words.

Organizations are conceived from a vision that originally lives in the head and heart of the founder. This vision is the founder’s efforts to define the feeling that has inspired him/her to create the organization.

The degree to which an organization clarifies that feeling, the WHY behind the WHAT and the HOW, is the degree to which it can successfully connect with its consumers.

The two Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, conceived Apple based on a singular belief/feeling: Every individual should have the power to challenge the status quo. Their products have consistently put that power into the individual’s hands.

Apple burst into the awareness of the culture with the first big-budget Super Bowl commercial in 1984.

Nothing in this commercial talked about Apple’s WHAT or their HOW, only their WHY. Those who are motivated by challenging the status quo have been the loyal first adopters of Apple products ever since.

Leaders of organizations are only leaders because they have followers, internally and externally. Followers are not committed to WHAT organizations do, or even HOW they do it. They are only committed to organizations whose leaders have clarified WHY they do WHAT they do, and consistently articulate it by WHAT they do and HOW they do it.
WHY matters.

Inspired by Start With Why by Simon Sinek

- Mary Beth King

This article previously appeared at True Life Coaching, a subsidiary of Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel's book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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