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Are you inspiring people to be inspired?

Leadership why how whatWhy is it that some leaders seem naturally able to inspire people while other smart and talented individuals simply don’t? In a similar vein, why do some businesses elicit excitement and interest in their products and services while other reputable companies just aren’t in the same league?

Inspirational leaders are major assets to any business as their ability to inspire others is a melting pot for productivity, innovation, performance and success. Inspirational leaders live passionate and purpose-driven lives and have a unique ability to transfer their positive energy and enthusiasm to those around them.

While there are many good leaders in the business community, there generally aren’t as many inspired ones. Inspired leadership requires more than just good business acumen, people skills and the ability to communicate effectively. It moves beyond the topics you’re taught in business school – like listening skills, real inclusion, integrity, reward and recognition and an ability to communicate the big picture vision.

Inspired leaders know what they do, they know how to do it but most importantly, they have a good understanding of why they get up every morning to do it. This seems to be the differentiating factor that sets inspirational leaders apart from just good ones.

Author and public speaker Simon Sinek is a firm proponent of the importance of ‘why’ within leadership. Sinek believes that if you know why you do what you do, this driving force can have a profound impact and influence and help you to achieve lasting success. “Having a clear sense of Why is the one common factor that all great leaders, those able to inspire those around them, possess,” he says.

Sinek travels the world addressing business leaders about a simple idea he calls ‘The Golden Circle,’ which he believes all inspiring leaders and organisations have in common. The outer core of the three-part circle is all about knowing exactly what you or your company does. The next band concerns how you do it. The core of the concept is why you do it.

Sinek feels that most companies understand what they do, fewer understand how they do it and only a select group understands precisely why they exist. The ‘Why’ question isn’t a profit motive – this is the result of the ‘What’ and ‘How’. Why does your organisation exist? Why do you get out of bed every day and why should anyone care?

The Golden Circle theory proposes that all inspired leaders and organisations communicate from the inside out rather than the other more traditional way around. Most companies’ marketing strategies usually take the outside-in approach, telling consumers what they do and how they do it. Sinek supports the inside-out model as he believes this is the inspiring way to go if you want to spark feelings, as you then get customers to buy into why you do what you do. Feelings drive human behaviour and decision making. If you inspire people to believe the ‘Why’, your approach can then be backed up with convincing facts and figures and people will be happy to buy your products.

Taking The Golden Circle a step further, leaders who believe in why they do what they do are the ones able to inspire others to support the ‘Why’ cause. If you hire people who believe in why you do what you do, they are likely to buy into your vision and give their blood, sweat and tears willingly.

The late Steve_Jobs, former co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc once said:  “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Innovators are people who believe in the ‘Why’ and Sinek often cites Apple, one of the world’s most innovative businesses, to support his Golden Circle theory. Apple has marketed itself from the inside out, not emphasising what it does and how it does it, but rather focusing on why they do what they do. This has had a profound influence of customers and seems to be the ‘it’ factor that has set Apple apart from many of its competitors and given it a competitive edge. There are many great IT companies out there, like Dell, Samsung, HP and Toshiba. While they have the same technology, the same products and the same access to talent, Apple and its iPods, iPhones and iPads seem to have led the market with more innovation, inspiration and aspiration.

There are leaders and there are those who lead with an extra special something. The latter inspire us a whole lot more than most.

Do you know exactly why you do what you do and is the organisation you work for clear on the ‘Why’ as well as the ‘How’ and ‘What’?

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