May 3, 2012
// Getting Everyone on the Same Page
I have been interacting with some folks at Northwood University and have discovered that every semester, the entire faculty and student body reads the same book. Sometimes, the author makes a presentation the following semester to the faculty and students. I am aware that some company leadership teams follow this practice, too. As I reflected on it, I thought, what a powerful way to get the entire team on the same page. You may want to consider this idea for your leadership team, or maybe even all your associates.
The book they are currently reading at Northwood University is Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek. It is a book that I would highly recommend. In the past I have endorsed Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink. One of the three elements of true motivation, according to Pink, is purpose. I believe Sinek's book is totally focused on knowing your purpose.
Some obvious examples of how great leaders have inspired our nation include: President John F. Kennedy's challenge to the nation to put a man on the moon; Dr. Martin Luther King's call for others to help him make his dream become reality; the way Apple, under Steve Jobs, changed seven industries; and the way Google, under direction from its leadership, has delivered information to everyone in the world. On a more local scale, Frank Moran, of Plante & Moran, talked about his firm becoming the Mayo Clinic for businesses. The key to how these people managed to motivate others to succeed and pursue their dreams and vision is the fact that the leaders themselves could articulate why they wanted to achieve whatever it was they wanted to happen.
The following are a few of my favorite quotes from Sinek's book:
- "Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you — not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to."
- "What all great leaders have in common is the ability to find good fits to join their organizations."
- "When a team of experts comes together they often work for themselves and not for the good of the whole."
- "If you have the discipline to focus on the early adopters (this is a reference to the 1962 book Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers), the majority will come along eventually. But it starts with Why."
- "Volkswagen, translated, means 'people's car.' "
- "The single greatest challenge any organization will face is success."
In closing, Sinek tells a story about an annual event in Boston called the Gathering of Titans, whose attendees include highly successful entrepreneurs. When participants in GOT were asked how many of them had achieved their financial goals, 80 percent raised their hands. Then they were asked whether they felt successful, and 80 percent of the hands went down. This seemed to demonstrate that even business owners are searching for a purpose, or a "why."
We would challenge you to make sure your "why" is clear to everyone in the company.
Seek. Climb. Lead.