Not Why but Why Me
For the purpose of this blog post, I'm going to assume you know who Simon Sinek is and are familiar with his best-selling book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. If not, stop reading this right now. Do yourself a favor, and go check out his TED Talk on "How Great Leaders Inspire Action." Then, go get his book. Once you've read it, digested it and had your mind sufficiently blown, come back to this post and meet me at the beginning of paragraph two.
Hi again. It seems that pretty much every marketing and business leader I know thinks Simon Sinek is super smart. Corporate America universally seems to agree that if you want to create an engaged culture and inspire action, you must start with why the company exists. If you want people to be excited to come to work and do great work, then they must know why the company is in business.
Unfortunately – that’s where I often find things break down. I can’t decide if Start With Why is incomplete, or if business leaders are just misusing its information.
I do agree it’s a good thing companies are doing a better job explaining why they exist and what their purpose is. However, the assumption seems to be that if the company’s why is meaningful or motivational, then their employees will naturally want to follow suit. I disagree.
It’s my belief employees fundamentally need to understand the company’s why, but also their own specific why. Why does their role exist at the company? How does their role help the company achieve its purpose?
Without this basic, intrinsic knowledge and sense of empowerment, a company’s why may be a beautiful thought, but it’s ultimately hollow unless employees are given a personal understanding of their ability to contribute to its achievement. So it’s not just why. It’s why me.
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