Great leaders are inspired by some inner cause that gives them a guiding compass to motivate those around them. They believe in something bigger than themselves, and this is apparent through the charisma and perseverance they demonstrate. I am not a great leader, but I have always felt inspired and motivated by something inside me, giving me the motivation to achieve my goals. But what is it that really inspires me? What is it that sometimes makes me want to get out of bed in the morning with an abundance of energy and excited for the day? – What is my Why?
This is a question we should all try to answer and why we need to read this book. Simon Sinek describes it as the ‘Golden Circle’. On the outside is our ‘What‘ – what is it that we do. In the middle is our ‘How‘ – how do we do what we do. But in the centre, the key to it all is our ‘Why‘ – why do we do what we do. And this is where it all starts “the clarity of why, the discipline of how and the consistency of what”. As leaders and organisations we are so much more powerful if we can lead with our why. Simon Sinek describes two stonemasons building a wall, laying brick after brick. Both are asked what they do. One replies he is building a wall, the other replies that he is building a cathedral. What a difference, and all because of the power of why.
The book discusses the interesting biology behind it all, and where our ‘Why’ comes from: the limbic side of the brain. Continuing reading and you’ll learn that this side of the brain has no words, no way of communicating. Hence we come up with a solution based on our gut feelings. This is no throw away solution, but yet a solution based upon our intrinsic values and experience that we know is right but that we simply can’t explain. This doesn’t necessarily fit well in a fact driven, detailed analytical organisation, but the book uses Colin Powell to sum it up nicely “I can make a decision with 30% of the information….anything more than 80% is just too much information”. I felt quite reassured when I read this, as this is me. As soon as I get too much I just shut down and find the clarity I thought I’d had disappear. It’s all centred around trust. Trusting our gut, and trusting those around us.
It’s common knowledge that without trust there is very little, if anything. Simon Sinek suggests, “Trust is the bedrock for the advancement of our own lives, our families, our companies, our societies and our species”. That’s pretty deep, but as a leader I’m sure you don’t need anyone to tell you what can happen when trust is removed.
In closing the book emphasises the importance of balance within great teams. Some of us will aspire to be visionary leaders, embracing our why. But we also need those who can translate our why into how and what. That is what will make a great team. Too many whys and you may never be able to transform it into the what.
I don’t think it’s too powerful to suggest that discovering your why will have a profound impact in the direction of your career, and your life. “Our career paths are largely incidental”. With your why you can change that, and it starts with reading this book.