Implementing “Why First” Leadership
Why first leadership can be just the thing that your organization needs to accomplish your business goals. Yet, actually adopting and implementing Why first leadership is often much more difficult than expected. Not only may it be hard to fight inertia on your end, but intransigence within your organization may make it more difficult than expected.
As an Entrepreneur, Focus on Implementing Your Why From Day One
One great example of a founder who implemented why first leadership on day one is Elon Musk. Elon is impressive for so many reasons, yet it can be difficult to relate to him. After all, his IQ is off the charts and his pocketbook is essentially limitless. However, one of Elon’s most renowned qualities is something that we can all emulate. That is the fact that he exemplifies Why first leadership.
SpaceX is a great example. From its first days in operation, Elon’s long-term Why for SpaceX was to expand human activity in space. His Why was making life multi-planetary, with humans even walking on the surface of Mars. Yes, he realized that he needed to make his company financially viable for it to happen. Yet his Why was the underlying force for overcoming some significant failures. Even today, Elon’s goal of making life multi-planetary is the galvanizing force within the company. It helps them accomplish seemingly impossible goals.
As a founder, you will do yourself a favor if you follow Elon’s vision. Knowing your Why and incorporating it into your company on day one creates an outstanding foundation. Not only does it substantially increase your chances of living out that Why in your daily work, but it becomes easier to recruit new employees. Therefore, if you are just starting a business, I implore you to think about and implement your Why. It is an investment that is absolutely worthwhile.
As a Manager or CEO, Stress the Why In Your Communications
But let’s say that you aren’t a founder or entrepreneur. Instead, you are a manager or CEO at a large organization. While you may not have been able to implement your Why from the beginning, it is certainly attainable. It all comes down to communication.
The best managers are extremely clear on their Why and consistently broadcast it to their teams. Sinek tells his readers and followers to adopt Why statements, but no matter how it is done, the Why is at the top of mind. Everyone from the entry-level employee to the CEO knows the Why because it is communicated so often.
A great example of this is Starbucks. For many decades, Starbucks has been known as the place that serves high-quality coffee in a friendly, warm setting. The company even touts its culture of warmth and belonging in its mission statement. Through this Why, Starbucks employees know that their work makes a true difference in the world. They can serve their clients outstanding coffee and become an integral part of their customers’ daily routines. Warmth and belonging are within the company’s culture itself, as Starbucks has been known to provide terrific benefits for its employees.
Therefore, I encourage you to follow Starbucks’s lead. Make sure that every employee knows what your Why is and why it is important to adopt that Why. It may take some time, but you will notice that repetition can work wonders.
Transforming Into a “Why First” Leader
Leadership is an ongoing practice. There is no one point where you permanently become an outstanding leader. Even the greatest leaders in the world today continue to work on their craft. That being said, focusing on your Why and implementing it in your organization can make the process much easier.
Those that do not focus on their Why find themselves in situations where their employees are demotivated or sullen. They may do enough to “get the job done” but no more than that. On the flip side, stressing your Why will have your organization firing on all cylinders. While the road may not be easy, the destination is absolutely worth it.
Better yet, you don’t need to be a born leader to become a Why first leader. You can become a Why first leader by first identifying your Why, communicating that Why to your team, and ensuring that the Why is at the heart of everything that your team does. More or less, it is about keeping the Why at the top of mind and aligning your team’s actions with that Why.
Consistency is the name of the game here. Along with this, be introspective. Truly think about whether your team is successfully pursuing the Why. If it isn’t, try something different. Iterate, as necessary. By being all-in with Why first leadership, you will be in a great position to totally transform your organization for the better.