How Great Leaders Inspire Action

My five year old son is not bad at hand writing. But to be honest I think he does find it more boring and harder work than some of his more sedentary class-mates. And yet during half term week, he voluntarily spent nearly two hours researching and writing a six page ‘book’. And he really enjoyed it.
Why on earth would he do this? It wasn’t any home-work he’d been set. Because the subject matter was his current hero, the footballer Lionel Messi. Because when you have a big enough WHY, work becomes play and all the normal difficulties become easier to overcome.
Early in his career, Steve Jobs was asked what he believed had enabled him to be more successful than most of his competitors. He said he remembered the point at which everything changed. It was when someone had told him that everything around us was not created by the people who know the most, or even by the people who have the most talent. But rather our world is shaped by the people who are most clear of their reason WHY?
Ideas to help your team harness their reasons WHY
In many charities, problems like pressure for results and intra-team politics can sap your morale and that of your team. When you feel less drive, it can be very hard to find the energy to act in spite of these problems, or indeed do anything to change them.
One solution is to deliberately find and associate to your reason(s) WHY. When I say ‘associate to’, I mean not just intellectually, but emotionally as well.
Leaders – If you’d like to help your team re-find their mojo and drive, here are Four Steps:
Step 1: In a team meeting or away day, play Simon Sinek’s extraordinary TED Talk how great leaders inspire action to your team, which has been viewed 21 million times. He uses practical examples, including Martin Luther King, Apple and The Wright Brothers to bring the idea to life. One of my clients showed this film at the start of his Heads of Fundraising away day in the Autumn and told me that it changed the quality of the entire day.
Note, your colleague who hasn’t seen it yet might suggest that you don’t have time to spend 18 minutes watching it. I’d say that is precisely the point. If your people are over-busy, all the more reason to watch it and gain a deeper understanding of how ‘the power of why’ can help.
Step 2: In the same meeting, or in the following one, ask your team, in pairs, to share any stories that have ever moved them about a) what is so difficult for the people your charity helps (ie this one does not need to involve your charity, or even have a happy ending); or b) impact – a time when your charity made a difference to make something better. Then invite a few people, the most willing, to share these stories with the group. Notice how the whole group talks with more passion and listens with more interest than they’ve probably shown for weeks.
Step 3: Then invite the group to discuss your charities’ reason WHY, both in terms of what is unacceptable about the status quo for the people or animals you serve, and (why is it unacceptable?) in terms of the VISION. What, precisely, does success look like when we achieve it? What does it sound like, look like, feel like for our beneficiaries?
Good luck tapping into your reasons why, and helping your colleagues to do the same. Let me know any other techniques that have helped you with this.