In Business: It’s not what you do, but why you do it that matters!
By Megan McAuliffe
What makes a great leader? Do a google search and you will notice the list is vast. But invariably, at the top of the list you will find Simon Sinek, an author known for his groundbreaking leadership model and book, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action?”
Sharing his knowledge at a TED Talk, Sinek uses the Wright Brothers and their successful attempts to invent and build the world’s first airplane in 1903, and a little known man called Samuel Pierpont Langley, to show what sets great leaders and not so great leaders apart.
To cut a long story short, Samuel Pierpont Langley was a mover and shaker back in the day, with his eyes fixed firmly on fame and fortune. Armed with a cash injection of $50,000 and a posse of people in the know, Langley set out to be the first to discover flight. However, it was the Wright Brothers who found their wings, a little known brother act with no financial backing, some savings from their bicycle business and a whole lot of heart. Finding out about the Wright Brother’s success, Langley quit on the spot and faded into historic obscurity.
According to Sinek, there was a key ingredient at the heart of the Wright Brothers’ business model which Langley failed to realise: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’
The world is full of beautiful business stories wanting to be told, and at the head of every beautiful business is a great leader which is driven by a cause, and a strong belief.
In Sinek’s words, “By being in pursuit of the riches, leaders are motivated by the wrong thing. If you talk about what you believe in, then you’ll attract those people who believe the same.”
“Why was it that Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement? He wasn’t the only great orator of the time, nor was he the only man who suffered from oppression in America. So why him?”
Managing Director David Ward of VW Heritage on the Southcoast of England knows the recipe to good leadership. His is a rag to riches tale, which began in the 1980s when David found out he was to become a father. Driven by an urgent need to support his family, he began making trips to Amsterdam to bring back VW Campervans, which he restored and sold on the South Bank in London to Aussie travelers.
As classic and vintage cars grew in popularity, he saw a gap in the market and jumped at the opportunity to help enthusiasts restore, keep and care for their classic VW cars, by selling genuine VW classic parts and quality reproduction spare parts. In this way, he was helping to keep older cars on the road for longer, a sustainable model in the automotive industry which is still thriving today.
Since it’s inception, the business has gone from strength to strength as David believes in the business wholeheartedly and consequently, so does his staff. It’s a company ‘run by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts’. In fact, it is the company’s motto. It’s also important to the business that its staff are interested in VWs – and most of the staff own a VW or two too.
David Ward says, “Customers are important, but staff are too. If they are happy, they work well. It’s all about people and having good people around you.”
Does a company’s ideals drive growth?
According to Jim Stengal they do. In his book ‘Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit, Stengal looked at over fifty of the most successful businesses over a ten year period. His findings: Those companies which focused their culture on improving people’s lives had three times the growth rate of their competitors.
And, a study by the Harvard Business Review showed that job contentment influences productivity, creativity, loyalty and the equal sharing of power.
The jobs site CareerBliss.com conducted a survey of 70,000 company reviews it received from employees in 2012 – 2013 across the U.S, to find which businesses were doing the most to make their employees happy, and in what ways they were achieving this.
The job site found that overall happiness in the workplace had little to do with paychecks, workloads or how many holidays an employee was entitled to. And, that it was more likely to be obtained with a company that listened to what its employees wanted and valued.
In essence, good leadership trickles down through a business. And, when employees are valued and treated well in the work place, they are more productive and efficient, and they are also more likely to stick around for longer.
According to CareerBliss chief technology officer Matt Miller, “From both ends of the spectrum, an individual’s happiness at work will create happiness throughout all areas of their life, and likewise a company with a happy, motivated workforce will see exceptional results in its products and services.
Darren Hoad B.A (Hons.), M.A. M. Phil.
IEMA Certified Sustainability Practitioner CSR-P
Do you know you’re beautiful?