Blog 10.2

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Our blog in the series on Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek, focuses on how leaders inspire followers. Great organizations are clear in their what, how, and most importantly their why. Having a clear “why” connects us to a deeper meaning and purpose, which in turn inspires greatness from everyone within the organization.

Sinek found that companies and organizations that are driven by their “why” have leaders that inspire this “why” throughout the organizational culture. One necessary piece of culture is the value of trust created and distributed up and down an organization. “Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain.” Employees feel a sense of empowerment from their leadership and want to work hard because they believe in the vision of the company. “Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you – not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.”

One example Sinek shared was a new CEO taking over Continental Airlines in 1994, which at the time was the worst airline in the industry. Prior to Gordon Bethune taking over, employees didn’t want to come to work, were not great at managing customer service, and the owner was untrusting and had the top floor of the office building guarded with security. Employees came to work for a paycheck, not a purpose. When Bethune took over in 1994, he put his employees first. He knew that if his employees were happy, they would make the customers happy, which would help please shareholders, and increase sales. One little thing Bethune did was reward the entire company for their performance as a team – each month that Continental kept their planes running on time, every employee got a separate check for $65 for their part in that success. Bethune was willing to reward everyone, demonstrating that their individual piece helped in the overall success of the company.

Whether it is a company or a team, inspiring everyone through a clear why improves culture and performance. “A WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built, and value is perceived.” Leaders that inspire from a clear why, help to create this balance and trust.

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