In line with Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”, very few people know ‘why they do what they do’ which creates the foundation behind the cause, purpose, belief and why the organisation exists. Sinek highlights this as paramount where, in order to be successful, we need to work from the inside out. Inspired and successful leaders think and communicate following on Sinek’s Golden Circle, starting from “Why” before moving on to the “How” and “What”.
Knowing and communicating “the why behind the what” in everything we do, not only creates higher motivation and engagement in your employees but also buy-in from your customers.
It is easy to see how professions such as healthcare and education find it rather effortless to find their jobs as meaningful. It is not uncommon to assume that workers in “dirty work” occupations or jobs that are stigmatised as messy, unpleasant or undignified would be disengaged. The surprising find in a study done by sociologists is that the workers in these industries are able to transcend their trivial job roles and bad working conditions to find their jobs meaningful and rewarding. These people see their jobs as more than just a career or source of income; they have a genuine belief that their work contributes towards a greater good that makes the world a better place. They are able to make the strong connection between how “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important”.
Sinek argues that there are two types of leaders. Those who decide to manipulate to get to the end result and those who start with the end result in mind and let everything else naturally fall into place. Purpose-driven leaders are likely to inspire purpose-driven employees. A recent study found that when leaders are connected to a personally meaningful purpose, employees are more likely to connect to a higher purpose as well.
“Why” type leaders are the visionaries with overactive imaginations. They tend to be optimists who believe that everything they can imagine can be accomplished and they tend to be focused on things most people cannot see, like the future. “How” type leaders, instead are more practical and more realist and tend to be focused on the things most people can see and tend to be better at building them. Interestingly, Sinek says that “How” type leaders can be very successful, but rarely do they build billion-dollar businesses that change the world.
Effective leaders provide clarity to the mission and how individuals contribute which makes it more actionable. Leaders need to not only showcase their values and purpose by making it visible within the company but to reinforce them in their day-to-day behaviours with the right organisational culture and support structures. Leaders who are able to articulate company values clearly, set the right tone from the top down. Great leaders do not only translate the organisation’s mission and purpose into a common language that everyone can understand, but they create engagement by showing how everyday tasks link to the overall organisational strategy.
Chua, A. (2018). Are you working for a purpose-driven organisation? Retrieved from https://leaderonomics.com/business/purpose-driven-organisation.
Cook-Deegan, P., & Bronk, K.C. (2018). Want a purpose-driven business? Know the difference between mission and purpose. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/40552232/want-a-purpose-driven-business-know-the-difference-between-mission-and-purpose.
McKinsey. (2014). Connecting strategy, goals, and meaningful purpose. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/connecting-strategy-goals-and-meaningful-purpose.