People want to know why!

If you want others to do something, you have to explain the purpose. Don’t focus on telling them what and how they have to do something but primarily focus on “why”. Simon Sinek wrote a great book about “Start with why!”:

“It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters Why you do it.”

If you want committed employees who contribute and act on your behalf – then you must first explain what the point is.

 What is the purpose?

Why is their work important? What is the purpose?  What is your vision? It is important that you explain why your company exists.

It is not enough to simply say what you make or produce or what your company is particularly good at. The point is to communicate what the sense and purpose of your company is. Why does your company actually exist?

Money is not the answer!

If your answer is that the purpose of your company is to generate profits then you have a problem.

Neither your customers nor your employees will be inspired if the purpose of your company is to “sock away money”.

Don’t get me wrong: Without making a profit your company will die over the long haul. But generating profits is not the sense and purpose of your company. Profits are only a means to an end!

What is a credible and inspiring answer?

Do you have a credible and inspiring answer to the question: What is the purpose of your company? The purpose must entail a benefit for others.

Only when your company has such a purpose and you openly communicate and demonstrate this, will you have customers and employees who are fully committed to you.

There are terrific examples for corporate visions that inspire and capture customers and employees. Visions that describe why a company exists. Visions that describe the true underlying purpose. When these are truly filled with life and are authentic, they can unleash incredible powers.


  • From an ethical perspective it also matters HOW you do things… Though I agree that WHY should go first.

    • Thanks.
      You are right: It matters “How” you do things.
      But I believe, if you have a ethical “Why”, than there is a high probability that the “How” will be ethical as well.

  • Birkman Internat’l.

    You are both correct. Speaking from an ethics perspective, you can teach ethics, you can mandate ethics, yet you can’t make people ethical. Through WHY you can put a framework for ethical behavior in place. As in Bernd’s example, if “profitability” were the why it is more likely you will get behavior that follows making a profit. Equally important, as pointed out by mikolajek, is helping employees understand what the right behavior for the organization is and what it looks like – the HOW. This is where leadership must model the right behavior. Unfortunately, we read too many headlines that demonstrate unethical behavior and less than inspiring purpose from leaders that, in turn, infects the organization. A great case study for this is Enron. Their purpose (high stock price) and behavior (Darwinian culture) were not sustainable.