Recently I watched a video by Simon Sinek titled “How great leaders inspire action” and it totally blew me away. In this video Simon talks about the “Golden Circle” and boldly states that “the goal is not to do business with everyone who needs what you have; it’s to do business with those who believe what you believe.” In other words, why do you do the things you do? It’s a very powerful and thought provoking question and one that most of us can’t answer immediately.
Simon cites several examples to prove his idea. The one that stands out in my mind of an individual who was a great leader, is one that most of us are very familiar with but perhaps have never put into this context – it’s the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his powerful “I believe” speech on the mall in Washington. Without any promotion of this event, 250,000 people showed up to hear him speak – we’ve all seen those television images I’m sure. They showed up because they “believed” what he “believed”.
This was an AHA moment for me as I immediately made the connection between why I have made the choices that I have made over the years with people, products and even organizations – because I believed what they believed!
I have been very fortunate in that I have worked for several organizations whose leaders were outstanding, but there is one who stands out in the “I believe” category above all the others – Mario Pilozzi who was CEO of Wal-Mart Canada during the time that I was employed there. Mario was a phenomenal leader whose servant leadership style made it easy for us to “believe” where he was leading the organization and us. He inspired loyalty and dedication, and motivated us to reach beyond what was just ordinary and deliver on the extraordinary. Why did we do this? Because we were inspired by a great leader who believed in us AND, we believed him!
How can we be a leader that others believe in? How can we have our employees be motivated and driven for success by having the same belief in our product or service as we do?
People are drawn to those who are open and authentic, but it’s more than that. Much like Mario Pilozzi, we need to use a servant leadership style. To recap, servant leadership is a leadership philosophy which implies a comprehensive view of the quality of people, work and community spirit. A servant leader is someone who is servant first, who has responsibility to be in the world, and so s/he contributes to the well-being of people and community. A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and asks him/herself how s/he can help them to solve problems and promote personal development. S/He places his main focus on people, because only content and motivated people are able to reach their targets and to fulfill the set expectations. We discuss servant leadership and other leadership styles more in our SmartLEADER course.
Essentially, this requires us to engage our employees and have them be an active part in the development of the company. This does not mean letting employees decide the overall direction of the firm or major financial decisions, but rather to have them make suggestions to improve the operations or pitch a new product idea. It comes down to what all employees (especially the younger generations) want: collaboration and involvement. By this I do not simply mean sending out a memo that tells your teams what is going on. As discussed in the article “Using Transformational Learning in Organizations“, engaging your team requires having them not only know what’s happening, but also in having them provide feedback and their ideas. Give employees the opportunity to see their thoughts in action, along with acknowledgement of their contribution, and you not only have an engaged and motivated employee, but someone who feels ownership of the company and, as a result, belief in what it stands for. This does not happen over night, but by giving your emerging leaders the opportunity to share their knowledge and by practicing a servant leadership style, you will eventually develop a culture of belief.
Since I have joined Witz, I’ve been truly amazed at how often I receive completely unsolicited calls from former participants of our SmartMANAGER course, who share with me how much their lives were positively impacted by what they learned here; how they “believe” that part of their success was directly due to communication skills that we taught them. As a result of their belief, they want to send their son/daughter, they want to refer us to someone or they want to bring us into their organizations to provide this training to their people.
And I’m also truly amazed that here we live this culture every single day. So while other organizations may continue to focus on the what and maybe the how because they don’t get it, we will continue growing our existing culture of “I believe” here:
At Witz, we believe that people want to have successful relationships, in business and in their personal lives. We believe that key to attaining this is to be able to communicate effectively. We teach you how to do that. Want to learn?