Leading Begins With Defining Why

It all starts with why. – Simon Sinek*

 Leaders Start with Why
Simon Sinek speaks, writes, and consults on this topic and makes a compelling case for knowing why we want to do something – especially when it comes to leading an organization. Defining the why is an individual choice, not a group decision. It’s the leader’s duty to create and define the vision, and then to define the why. It’s the why that’s compelling, not necessarily the what – and especially not the how.

For many years as a leadership coach and trainer, I did not understand this principle. It was not until I had a paradigm shift that I attracted people to me who needed my skills. They needed to know why they needed me.

As I wrote about in a previous post, Bob Circosta, the “Billion Dollar Man,” defines the WSGAT ™ to tell people why they need to purchase a product. It’s the What’s So Good About That line that’s clarifying. He says sales is about telling people why they need something. Then they’ll buy it.

In his book and TED talks, Sinek uses Apple as an example of beginning with why. They make the user experience easy – that’s why you need to buy their products.

I work with many start-up entrepreneurs who have great ideas for products or services. Any one of these ideas has the potential to change the world as we know it. There are many, many people who look at things that aren’t and say, “Why not…” and create a solution. Out of every 100 of those people I meet, only three, on average, will actually do something about it. Out of those three, only one will survive in the business world and be successful.

Many start-ups need funding. Many do not receive the funding to begin design or production of a product. Some who get money to start production don’t get enough funding to market the product successfully and create a sustainable cash flow to support the business long-term.

The problem? So many of them focus on the what – what the product or service does. Or the how – how the product or service does whatever it does. Until people understand why it matters or why they need it, they really can’t connect with the project to purchase it or to invest in the company.

We all need external support to validate, refine, or challenge our thinking. We know why, but we can’t create a compelling message so others understand the why. We know it, so we assume that others know it because it’s quite obvious. Well, it’s obvious to us, but we’ve been living with the idea we birthed and it’s a part of our thinking and feeling. We forget that others need information and time to come up to speed with the concept.

So, in my personal journey, I have changed my language to talk about the why of leadership and why people need me. I’m constructing a new website for my company, SynerVision International, Inc. The URL is I invite anyone to check it out and provide me with feedback. Is my why clear?

Once we think we have arrived at a decision or a plan, we get stuck. We really never arrive like it’s a destination. We do, however, get on track and begin a journey like a train on railroad tracks. The railroad tracks keep up focused and in line with our plan. Having a coach and a mastermind team helps us to stay on track.

Define the why. Make a plan to achieve the why. Evaluate the plan regularly. Revise the plan as needed. Commit to the revision and get back on track.

Successful leaders do what others are not willing to do. Is that you?


* Purchase this book on Amazon: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (affiliate link)

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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