There are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power and authority, but those who lead inspire us- whether this is individuals or organizations, we follow them not because we have to, but because we want to.

All great and inspiring leaders think, act and communicate in the same way. Simon Sinek codified this into a simple idea- ‘The Golden Circle.’ WHAT, HOW, WHY. This idea explains why some organizations and some leaders can inspire when others aren’t. Every organization knows WHAT they do, some know HOW they do it, such as their USP, but very few know WHY they do what they do. By ‘why,’ that does not mean profit- profit is a result. ‘Why’ is your purpose, your cause, your belief, the sole reason your organization exists.

We all assume we know why we do what we do, but how do you explain ‘why’ when things don’t go quite as you had expected, yet others are successful in ways that defy all of your assumptions?

The best way to explain this thinking is using Simon’s example:

Apple continues to be innovative year after year and excels massively past their competitors but to put it simply, they are just another computer company. Apple’s competitors have access to the same talent, media, agencies, and consultants, yet Apple remains more inspirational and appealing to their audience.

The difference between Apple and their competitors is that they work in reverse to everyone else, they work from WHY> WHAT rather than WHAT>WHY.

Apple communicates with their customers by first telling them WHY they believe they are challenging the status quo. Then they describe HOW they are doing this, whether this is by making beautifully designed products, or the fact they are easy to use or user-friendly. As a result, the ‘what’ is merely the fact they make great computers.

The reason this strategy works so well is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you are doing it. Why you do something is what inspires others and encourages sales. What you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe. The goal is not to do business with everybody that needs what you have- the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe and why you do what you do.

Great leaders understand that if you don’t know WHY you do what you do, how will you ever inspire people to buy from you and remain a loyal customer?

Philip Uglow is the President of Renshi Consulting Group. Renshi lowers clients costs by pulling ideas from your people in the moment, when they are most busy with real work. This is when they learn. This is when they change.