Why do you get out of bed in the morning?Posted: August 29, 2012
As with many Americans, it is back to school season in my house. My children are still young enough that “school” is really just glorified childcare a few mornings a week. But for me, it means returning to WPI in pursuit of my MBA (my approach must be the world’s longest MBA program: five years down and three more to go). This semester I am taking a class on marketing, and I was pleasantly surprised when my professor included in our first session the following TedTalk in which Simon Sinek challenges us with: “Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should we care?”
I’ve been a fan of this video for quite some time. While I definitely see the importance of Simon’s challenge in the realm of marketing, I’ve been using it in conversations around leadership and employee satisfaction. This is because it is not only important for your customers to understand the ‘Why’ of your company, but your employees must understand this as well. It is this why that will keep them aligned with the company’s goals. It is this why that will keep them engaged, excited, and giving it their best.
In Made to Stick, the Heath brothers make many excellent points about successfully conveying a message. The part that stuck the most with me was a clear “commander’s intent“, which is essentially the true “why” of an operation so that no matter what happens, the leaders in the field understand the larger objective. In the book, Chip and Dan Heath tell the story about a newspaper editor in Dunn, NC who had +100% subscription in his distribution area by focusing on the names of the people in the local news stories. He excelled at making his intent so clear and simple to his employees that a staff photographer would know to shoot the crowd watching an event rather than the event itself. That leads to more names, which leads to success.
Here at Avaya, we know our “why” is collaborative communication. Everything we do is focused around that, as Pierre-Paul Allard explained so well in a recent article (I think if Pierre-Paul were closer to my age or younger, this would have been entitled “This is how we do“). Having our “why” so well defined helps our employees and our customers understand our vision. When I visit with customers or just explain who I work for at a social gathering, I can easily explain what we do, and more importantly, why we do it.
I encourage you to pause … and think … why do you get out of bed in the morning? Do your employees know and believe that? If not, you are likely not convincing your customers either. And if people don’t understand the why, they almost certainly won’t care.