March 28, 2018

It Begins With Why

A look at some of interesting ideas around finding your why and how it relates to leadership

It Begins With Why

I was recently listening to an interview with Simon Sinek. He is well known for his book Start with Why, and more recently, Find your Why. In the interview, he raised a few good points and ideas, with quite a few applying to leadership as well, so I would just like to share them with everyone else.

Find Our Why

In his book Start with Why, Simon talks about finding the reason for doing the things we do, essentially, our why. Most people associate their why with the work that they do and are often incorrect. For example, many athletes, such as Andre Agassi, suffer from depression after they reach their goal of being the best in the world as they lose their sense of purpose. This is a sign that they haven't discovered their why. Understanding people's why can lead to understanding what motivates them using that to attract the right people into your organisation or team.

Money, Money, Money

Many companies state that they pay large sums of money to people in order to attract the best talent in the industry. Instead, what they are actually doing is attracting people who want the largest salaries, which may not correlate to the best talent. What will attract the right people to your company or team is the culture and if the work aligns with their why. This will allow them to do what they are passionate about.

He also went on to mention that companies also give bonuses in order to incentivize performance. Again, people who are incentivized by money will do whatever it takes in order to reach the goal, which may even include acts of unethical behaviour or even destroying teams entirely. Typically, this will only lead to short term success as no values are infused within the team/organisation in order to maintain long term success.

You can't incentivize performance, only behaviour.

It Boils Down To Trust

No matter what we do in life, we all need someone to help us, be it in our career, mentorship, friendship or just life in general. I have mentioned many times before that trust is a vital part of being a leader and Simon echoed this as well. When you are a leader, be it at work, home or any situation, you should be taking care of those in your charge. Over time, they will start to see that you have their backs and trust will start to form. You can't order people to trust you. It needs to be earned and is formed from feelings that are born in your environment that you nuture.

In addition, leaders should always be the first to show trust. You have never heard a great leader say "prove to me that you deserve more responsibility". Great leaders learn to assess the capabilities of their people and give them more responsibility. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong, but it is all part of the learning process. Leaders always take the first step and trust their team. At the end of the day, they want to see people grow


Another aspect that was talked about was that of listening. This is an essential skill that really takes some practice. I know from experience that truly listening takes dedication in order to really understand the meaning of the words that people are saying. Far too often we are already thinking two steps ahead and formulating a response in our head instead of listening to the conversation. Only if you truly listen can you have a great discussion.

Simon also talked about leaders often going into a room and telling people how to solve a problem. Instead, they should go in explain the problem and let the other people talk and come up with the ideas. The leader should have a poker face, listen intently and speak last. Even if the leader doesn't choose your opinion, they will at least feel heard and see that their opnion does matter.

Overall, I thought that Simon had a lot of insight and teachings that could be quite useful in becoming a better leader.

Until next time...keep learning!