According to leadership guru and Columbia University professor Simon Sinek, people
don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. I think all generations understand this
to an extent and believe in positive motivation.
Sinek however believes the ‘know your why’ approach resonates particularly well with Generation Y Millennials, those born between 1983 and 1994, who have a large demographic investment in contributing to social impact.
Millennials, are now the largest and fastest growing segment of our workforce. Money is important but not everything. They may not care as much what you do but more about
why you do it. This seems somewhat similar to the saying, “People don’t care what you
know until they know how much you care”.
Sinek believes there are three concentric circles that organizations need to get clear:
“what” is the outer ring, “how” is just inside, and “why” is the bullseye.
He argues that most companies can rattle off a description of their product or service
(“what” they do). They express the way they’re unique from other similar businesses
(“how” they do it).
However, if an organization wants to thrive, everyone involved must be crystal clear and
invested in its core purpose (“why” they do it), ie connection to a bigger purpose.
Sinek’s Golden Circle:
Sinek believes no organization wins when its primary “why” is unclear or unknown.
Questions to help discover Our Organizational WHY*
Leaders of organizations please consider these questions”
1. Why do we do what we do?
For the sake of what…?
For whatever the answer, FollowUp with the question, Why is that important?
2. List a few times when morale was highest. What were the circumstances?
3. What causes or issue touch the organization deeply each time it is heard about?
4. What do we do best and Who does it?
5. Are we recognizing / rewarding excellence in the Who?
6. When people say, “You guys are so good at _____,” how do they complete the sentence?
*Adapted for organizations from Start With Why, Simon Sinek
No organization wins when its primary “why” is unclear. Leaders need to get behind closed doors and reap the not-so-hidden secrets to Sinek’s Golden Circle. If we don’t recognize the “Who,” after starting with “Why”, it could become a strategic miss. When leaders go out of their way to recognize the “Who,” they create a healthy environment that helps to ensure alignment with the Why.