Yesterday, I stumbled across @nickcharney‘s post Lessons in Collaboration on GovLoop. He brings to life a construct developed by Simon Sinek on the topic of how great leaders inspire action. How do great leaders inspire action? It all starts with the why, as in Sinek’s “golden circle” above. The average person, as Nick points out, inverses Sinek’s circle, “focusing too much on what it is that we do. How many of us would describe our work starting with why we have chosen to undertake it?” I absolutely love Nick’s post and it inspired my own imagination to run wild. With community building on my brain incessantly these days, I wondered if it applied. Verdict? You’ll see at the end of this post. But first…
Here’s a quick explanation of the What | How | Why | in the picture above.
What: every single person/organization on the planet knows what they do, 100%
How: some, know how they do it…maybe the differentiating value proposition
Why: but very few know why they do what they do…and by why he doesnt mean “to make a profit” – that is a result – by “why” he means what is your cause, what is your belief…why does your organization exist…why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone care?
Now think of a company who has an entire brand built around why they do what they do. Not one that describes what they make, or how they make it, but why they do what they do – their innermost ideaology. Want a clue? Rather than sell their product with: “we make great computers…they are beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly…want to buy one?” they simply start off by saying “think different.”
Rather than the messaging above, Apple says something like this:
“Everything we do, we believe in changing the status quo…we believe in thinking differently…the way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beauitifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
“People dont buy what you do, they buy why you do it” Simon explains.
Simon repeats this phrase probably 5 – 10 times throughout his presentation, and understandably so. It is fundamental to infinitely more ideas than simply how one incredibly innovative technology company became one of the most adored brands in the world today. It is essentially the crux of what allows great leaders to inspire action. One’s innermost ideologies about why they do what they do, is what people can latch on to and not fall off; the notions that can stand the test of whatever other external factors are going around outside of that core.
Essentially what it comes down to, is in whatever you do, know why you are doing it, and if those reasons are the right reasons, you’ll inspire others to action in the same way. If that passion and fire are there, you will yield far more patience, drive, and endurance than if you’re not clear on this most fundamental thinking. Others will hold tightly to the same core and also yield the same patience, drive, and endurance. This is where you want to be operating from…not something else from the How or What because these factors will eventually burn off.
To bring it directly into my ongoing conversation about Community Building, as a Community Manager, operate from this level of Why. Identify stakeholders who understand this Why as well, and believe in it the same way you do. You will then attract others with the same belief and build a community that can stand the test of turbulence and time.