This article covers the pattern, way of thinking, acting and communicating of leaders, which allows them to inspire others.
There are people who are born leaders, but we can all learn this pattern. We can learn to guide and inspire others. Throughout the article there will be a constant example, that is Apple. At Apple they started from why. Not all leaders lead by inspiring others.
We will see how to become part of this group. If they are inspired, people act not because they are dominated, or for any incentives. They act because they believe in the cause that inspires them. They don’t do because they have to, they do because they want.
Techniques used by companies that do not inspire
Our behavior is influenced by what we think we know. When we do not have complete data or interpret it incorrectly, on the one hand we make the wrong decisions (which can have small or catastrophic consequences), on the other we are unable to understand and predict future progress.
For a company, therefore, it is essential to understand the key factors to be profitable in the long term, to differentiate itself and to increase its results.
Many companies have no idea why some customers choose them, and that’s a problem, because they don’t have the strategies to precisely acquire new ones. Companies that don’t inspire use some manipulation techniques to sell.
- The price and the discounts : this is a short-sighted strategy, which creates long-term problems, because the discounts addict and induce people to buy a product only when it is discounted.
- Fear : it is mainly used by insurers, or in public health. It works to sell, but we certainly won’t have completely satisfied and loyal customers.
- Aspirations : fear moves away from potential danger; aspirations bring us closer to something we would like or want to be.
For example, messages like: “Six steps towards a happier life” or “How to get rich in six weeks” work for unmotivated, inconstant people, without discipline. How can a customer become habitual if he is not disciplined? Again there are good results, but only in the short term.
- Peer pressure : Writing “Such celebrities use our product” or “We have a million satisfied customers” puts pressure on the buyer.
- Novelty : the novelty could start a fashion, but if it is not a real tired innovation and a set of confused novelties they risk creating too wide a choice, which confuses the person.
The concept is that all manipulations lead to money transitions to the corporate account, but not to loyal and long-lasting customers.
The “golden circle” of the leaders who inspire
Few leaders choose to inspire rather than manipulate to motivate people. They do it following a pattern that I call “the golden circle”. Not only does it explain why some companies or some cultural movements are contagious, but it allows you to improve leadership, sales, marketing, staffing, product development, corporate culture.
This circle is actually made up of three concentric circles. We see them from the outermost to the innermost.
- What : every company knows what it is doing, what it is selling.
- How : the how is the unique selling proposition , that is the company differentiating factor. This is a little more difficult to spot than the thing , but many companies are aware of it.
- Why : the why is the purpose, the cause, the deepest belief. It is the reason why the company exists, why we get out of bed in the morning. It’s the mission.
Most companies and people communicate from the outside of the circle inwards, then say what they sell, how, and perhaps often implicitly, why they do it.
The inspired companies and leaders, on the other hand, think, act and communicate from the inside to the outside.
For example, Apple does not say: “We build big computers. They have a nice design, are simple to use and user-friendly. Do you want to buy one? ” but: “Everything we do, we do to challenge the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.
The way we challenge the status quo is to create computers with a nice design, simple to use, user-friendly. And so we build big computers. Do you want to buy one? “.
It’s a completely different message.
People don’t buy what we do. They buy why we do it. The product gives life to our cause, it is the tangible proof of it. Obviously it must be of quality; the what, the how and the why must be coherent. The reason must be clear.
If it is confused, customers run away, or in any case do not like our product, which becomes only a commodity, that is, a consumer good, a commodity. Know our why is the only way to success. In this way the customer communities are born, which in reality are fan clubs, real tribes.
The reason why the golden circle works is that the what and how are evaluated by the cerebral neocortex, which deals with rational decisions. The reason is assessed by the limbic system, which responds to emotions and produces them. Choosing through the limbic system, in fact, means acting on your stomach, feeling that you have made the right decision.
Belly decisions tend to be faster, more exact for our needs and more satisfying, precisely because they feel they have done the right thing. Feeling is opposed to thinking and is much more powerful.
There are three degrees of certainty, which we see from the minor to the major:
- Think it’s right .
- To feel that it is right .
- Knowing that it is right . In this case, emotionality and rationality are balanced. This happens when the three circles of why, how and what are aligned and coherent.
If there is no why, it is more difficult to make a decision, it is easier to get confused and therefore to linger. So why must be clear; how it should be accomplished with discipline; the thing must be consistent. In this way the proposal is truly authentic. The process towards why is a process of discovery, not of invention.
Both manipulation and inspiration act on the limbic level; the difference is that inspiration is more about an alignment with ourselves and with our deepest part. Manipulation is more about the product we are buying, which is, and remains, external and detached from us.
Loyalty, trust and faith, which are true values, exist in the mind of those who buy, not those who sell. And for this they are very powerful.
In this way we can also choose customers: we will select only those who believe in what we believe. Starting from why it makes this much simpler and more effective.
The same things are valid for associations, for movements, for causes that are considered important, and also for gallant appointments. Doing business is like going out with someone: it is much better to talk about what you believe in rather than what you have.
The value of trust
The important thing is to create trust, first of all in your employees, who must be fervent supporters of the cause, must be motivated and disciplined, and then in customers
At this point, we have confidence in the company even if something goes wrong. Trust emerges when we have the feeling that another person or organization is driven by something that goes beyond mere profit. With trust, true shared value is created, which cannot be quantified by profit. The value, by definition, is the transfer of trust.
The why is the creed, the how is the set of actions that we implement to achieve it, the thing is the result of these actions. When they are aligned, it is normal to gain trust.
Leading, leading, means having spontaneous, convinced followers who do not feel obliged to do anything, but have pleasure in taking part in the various initiatives.
Furthermore, it will be much easier to convince early-adopters, that is, those who first buy a new product or service, even if it is deficient or imperfect. If we manage to conquer them, we are already well advanced, and the diffusion curve of our product will be favorably influenced.
It is also important to work with the right people; choosing an employee based only on his or her curriculum or professional ethics is not enough.
The goal is to hire those who are passionate about our why, our cause, and who have a mentality that fits our culture. If these components are present, we can move on to assess their skills and work experience.
Large companies do not hire good workers and motivate them, but hire motivated people and inspire them. Building a team of like-minded people and providing them with a cause to pursue ensures a great sense of team, complicity and camaraderie.
In this way they will do more of their work. Well planned business bonuses can also be given if the goals are met. The way to measure them must be consistent with why.
Being a leader also means working hard to clarify a path for others, so that they can have enough confidence to do more and better. In this way a virtuous circle is established.
It is very important to keep the why clear over time. In particular, clarity, discipline and constancy must remain, which make the golden circle balanced. This feeds the passion of both employees and buyers.
In addition, if the why remains clear, the celebrities chosen for advertising will not only be part of what the company offers, but will amplify the reason through consistency with the corporate mission.
Those who know the “why” must be joined by those who know the “how”
Energy is opposed to charisma. Energy motivates, charisma inspires. Energy is evident, easy to see, measure and copy. The charisma is difficult to define, almost impossible to measure and too evasive to copy.
All great leaders have charisma in that their why is clear. The charisma comes from absolute conviction in a greater ideal than us. On the contrary, energy can come from a restful night or from a lot of caffeine. Energy can excite, but only charisma can inspire. Only charisma induces loyalty; energy no.
So the how is perpetuated by all that makes the why tangible; this can happen in any business department. Every successful company, next to those who have the vision, must have those who know how to do it. That is, those who know why must be closely joined by those who know how.
The former are the visionaries, they are optimistic, while the latter live more in the here and now, they are focused more concretely and have the aptitude to build solid structures and processes, in order to complete the tasks.
To give an example to Apple Steve Jobs was the visionary, but Wozniak was the engineer who built the heart of the products.
The golden circle, if projected vertically, can become a cone, and look like a megaphone. The leader is holding the megaphone and is closer to why, which he expresses easily. Then come the how and the what. In turn, we can imagine the cone as being placed on the market.
It is made up of customers and potential buyers, the press, various partners, money. This system is chaotic and disorganized. The only contact he has with the business organization is through the thing. This is why sometimes it is difficult or abstract to communicate why, but it must be absolutely done.
The reason reflects the leader’s personality. There is no difference between Jobs and Apple, or between Richard Branson and Virgin. The reason must also be communicated through symbols. Having a logo is not enough; it must be consistent with the corporate mission, it must amplify it. To understand how to implement communication aspects, we can use the “celery test”.
When we are on the market, we invariably receive unsolicited advice on what to add to our business. They will tell us that it would be fantastic to add OREO, M & Ms, milk, rice milk, celery. So let’s go to the supermarket, buy them all, and examine them carefully. But then, the second time, we spontaneously buy only rice milk and celery.
This is because it is the only thing that seems sensible to us; so let’s find out why. It also becomes clear to other people, who understand our attention to health, for example. Of course, it is much more advantageous to know why in advance, so as not to waste time in the supermarket buying unnecessary things.
How a company can survive success
Success is a feeling, a state of being. It’s about why. The realization of the objectives, however, concerns something we get, a goal. It’s about the thing. Only a few of those who consider themselves performing are considered successful people; managers often achieve previously established goals, but which are perhaps far from their mission.
Only a small part of start-ups survive after three years; an even smaller share grows and can be defined as a successful company. But success can be dangerous, because you risk focusing on what, adding new product lines, improving quality or innovation, but the initial why can become out of focus, confused, unclear.
The initial passion can vanish, and this is very dangerous. Passion feeds the first steps, but then the company needs structure, or how. In turn, then, if passion survives, it feeds the growth of the structure.
The danger, with success, is that the passion will vanish, leading employees to simply do their job, forgetting about the mission. The company’s performance is assessed only through cold indicators and the initial compass, given by the company’s founding values, is lost.
For a company, therefore, it is important to continue measuring if and how much the why remains clear. The only possible measure is through people’s feelings, through their perceptions, and their spontaneity. For this reason, a great leader chooses the successor so that it is completely aligned with the fundamental values of the company.
In this way it is a succession, not a replacement. This ensures business success for the next generation too.