The Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

[ted id=848]

Another great video shown at the Emerging Leadership Development Program meeting I was at last week was Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action. The take-away point for me was this part[1]:

Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? Well, as a result, the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.

Ever since learning the “five W’s” — who, what, when, where, why (and how) — in second grade, I’ve thought long and hard about which of them is my favorites question to ask. During college, I finally settled on a split be why and how and I think that this TEDx talk has finally helped me understand why “why” is the most important, followed by how.

  1. which starts at about the two minute mark in the video []