Inspiring Leaders Start with “Why”

Why?Laura is my favorite spinning instructor. She gets me to sweat more, pedal faster, and push myself harder than any other instructor. Her classes are always packed, a sign that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

So, why do I get more from Laura’s spin class? As you read a few examples of what Laura does, I invite you to consider why her class gets results.

Laura doesn’t just cheer, “Come on, keep going.” Her words seem more carefully chosen. Like when she shouts, “If you’re not working harder, you’re not getting stronger.” Several times during each class Laura hops off her bike and circulates the room. She stops to have a mini one-on-one with nearly every rider. To one she gives a thumbs-up as if to say, “Way to go.” She crouches down to get eye-to-eye with another as she encourages, “Come on. Pick up the pace.”

As Laura heads back to her bike she yells, “Don’t stop when I walk away.” And we all smile because she’s onto us. It’s human nature to slack off a bit when the leader’s back is turned. But in Laura’s class I keep the tension on my bike turned up, even when she’s not watching.

So, why does Laura bring out the workout demon in me? Understanding Laura’s power will help you to understand how you can become an inspiring leader who others will follow.

The Most Powerful Question

My response to Laura’s approach is grounded in the most powerful question: Why? Simon Sinek’s model, The Golden Circle, helps to explain this. Sinek’s simple and simply brilliant idea explains why some leaders and businesses are able to inspire us and others aren’t.

Here’s my nutshell version: When we know the “why” of what we do, whether it’s our workout or our business, our purpose is clear. This clarity enables us to help others also understand and embrace our vision. When we start with “why,” our mission will naturally flow. As Sinek says,

“If you don’t know why you do what you do then how will you get people to vote for you, buy something, or be loyal?”

If you haven’t seen Sinek’s TedTalk I encourage you to do so. It will be well worth the 18-minute investment. He passionately explains how we typically move from the outside of the circle in by first looking at what we do and how we do it. Often we don’t even consider why we do it. Sinek suggests we reverse this order, beginning from inside the circle, and start with why. When we do this we will be crystal clear about our purpose and beliefs.

Knowing and communicating the “why” will enable us to inspire others. As Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” So, no matter what your field, consider why someone should do business with you. According to Sinek, “The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

Sinek’s theory helps me understand why Laura’s spin class works for me. She believes that we’re there for one hour and we should work hard and get the most of our time—not just go through the motions. I believe that too, even though sometimes it helps to have a little push to put my belief into action.

So, I’d say that whether it’s spinning or business, when we start with the “why” of what we do we will have a much better shot at getting other like-minded people to want to do it with us. What would you say?

Laura’s spinning class is at Gold’s Gym in Long Branch, New Jersey

6 thoughts on “Inspiring Leaders Start with “Why”

  1. Pingback: Why Do You Do What You Do? | The Motivated Runner

  2. It’s funny you mention this. It’s something I deal with whenever I take on a new blogging client. Many people say they want to start blogging. As soon as I ask why, their mind goes blank. Then I have to explain that if they don’t know why they are blogging, the blog will fall – and no, “everyone is doing it” is not a good enough reason.

    Without asking these questions we would be moving with no direction and on a straight path to failure. Whenever I decide to focus on something else, I always ask myself why I’m doing it. If I can’t come up with an answer, I know I need to think about it for a while and then revisit the subject at a later date.

    • Terri, thanks so much for this comment. I wish I had been as clear about knowing why when I was your age. What a gift you bring to your clients by asking this question. Thanks for reading and weighing in. It’s always great to hear from you!

  3. Pingback: 18 minutes that can change your life – Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action | Greatpoetrymhf's Weblog

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