Start with why means start with a purpose. Why does your company exist? Why do you want to be a leader? What is your purpose in life? These are all important questions. You will find out that the multi-million companies succeed because they started with a purpose. They started with why.
The subtitle of this book is “How Great Leaders Inspire People to Take Action”. Great leaders do not only refer to politicians. It also refers to the leading companies of an industry. Apple is a leading computer brand. But it also entered the mobile phone industry and the small electronics industry. Later, we will know why.
“Inspire people to Take Action” is what Great leaders do. Good politicians do not only make people vote them. They inspire. Likewise, leading companies do not only make people buy. They give inspiration.
Great leaders have followers who are loyal to them. The people are willing to sacrifice or to go out of their way to follow what the leader says. That is because they are inspired.
Successful companies have loyal customers. The competitors may have a new or better product. But the loyal customers do not buy at once. They are loyal to one brand. How did this happen? This is because the company started with why.
Manipulation V.S. Inspiration
Motorola released its flip top model phone RAZR in 2004. Hollywood celebrities and prime ministers bought the new product. It was a huge success. Motorola sold 50 million RAZR units.
However, within 4 years, competitors have already copied the RAZR. They have created new phones with even better features. Motorola lost the spotlight.
The company used manipulation and not inspiration. That is why it lost the customers. Motorola released a new product. It has made people buy. But it did not make people become loyal to Motorola.
What Motorola did with RAZR is just a novelty. That is just one form of manipulation. Loyalty requires a higher cause. To inspire people is not that easy.
When you manipulate people, you just make them follow for a short time. You will make them take action but you will not have their loyalty. That is not what great leaders do.
What are the forms of manipulation? They are fear, peer pressure, aspirations, price, promotion and novelty. To gain votes, a politician may create fear. He may use peer pressure, give money or make promises. To increase sales, companies drop prices. They give promos and incentives or release new products. But these are not examples of good leadership.
Manipulations only make companies and organizations weaker. They make people follow but only for a short period of time. Manipulations cost a lot of money but they are not effective.
RAZR is not an innovation. And so, Motorola was not able to inspire people. The fax machine, the microwave oven, the light bulb and iTunes are all innovations. They are products which changed a whole industry. Even more so, they have changed the society.
The Golden Circle
Companies like HP and Dell start with what. They create products with very good features. But they don’t have customers as loyal as Apple’s. There are plenty of better computers out there with better specs. ButMac lovers still choose Apple above all.
When you tell people what your product is, they appreciate the features. But when you tell them what the purpose of your company is, they become loyal customers. This is because purpose, belief and feelings have a stronger effect to us humans. That is how our brain is wired.
When people believe in what your company believes in, they become loyal. When the employees also feel that purpose, they become motivated to work. If you have a strong purpose, it doesn’t matter what you do. You will inspire and lead people.
Let’s take a look at the diagram below. At the center of the circle is WHY. It refers to the purpose of the company. The next level is HOW. It refers to the process and decisions made by the company to come up with the product. The outer level is WHAT. It refers to the products and services of the company.
Most companies communicate from outside in. They always say how good their product is. But they do not know that starting with a purpose has a greater impact
Companies like Apple succeed because they communicate from inside out. At the core of everything Apple does, is the purpose. That purpose is to think different. Customers understand that. They see that purpose in all of Apple products. They believe in think different as well.
If you want to lead, do not start with what you can give to people. Start with why. Tell the people the purpose in what you do. If the people believe in your purpose, they will become loyal. They will be inspired and they will follow.
Let’s remember this important concept. It’s called the Golden Circle. WHY refers to purpose. HOW refers to process. WHAT refers to product.
Great leaders, like Bill Gates, have charisma because they have a strong purpose. They embody their belief. Great leaders have a vision that is more than personal. They have a cause that is bigger than their own selves.
Bill Gates believes that there are ways to solve any problem. He is optimistic. He believes that if you remove the obstacles, everyone can achieve their full potential.
He also believes that if you provide people useful tools, they will become successful. Bill Gates’ vision is that each home and each desk must have a PC. He carried on his purpose with Microsoft.
Bill Gates created PowerPoint, Excel and Word for people to be more efficient and more productive in life. He made Windows to help people achieve extraordinary things. Bill Gates has a vision to empower people through technology.
When Bill Gates left Microsoft, he continued on this vision. He founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife. He does not produce software anymore. Bill Gates gives people the opportunity to improve their lives.
Bill Gates believes that if the opportunity is given to poor people, they can lift up themselves. They can be empowered. Bill Gates only changed WHAT he does. But his purpose and vision remains the same.