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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    Lead With Your Why

    In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Simon Sinek describes our why as “our driving purpose, cause or belief”.  This why never changes, no matter what we do. A critical role of leaders is to define and communicate the why of their organization in a way that unites the leadership team and all employees around it. A shared why among the leadership team translates into alignment and consistency in decision making regarding the company’s products and services. It drives brand marketing; financial and legal matters; and treatment of employees, customers and shareholders. A shared why will also keep the organization focused on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. This becomes a standard or benchmark against which all strategies are measured to ensure they deliver on the brand promise.

    Start With Your Why

    When Bill and Melinda Gates we seeking a new CEO to lead their $40 billion foundation, they led with their why when they enticed Susan Desmond-Hellmann to accept the position. At the time she was passionate about her role as chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco, thus wasn’t initially interested. But after two months of conversations, she decided to accept the role because their vision, mission and plans gave her an opportunity to be a part of a team that could change the world. The interview process between the Gates and Desmond-Hellmann cinched the deal because it brought out the shared why that motivated each of them to action.  While it was possible for the Gates to find someone capable of performing the role as CEO of the world’s second largest foundation, it was even more important to find one who shared their why, who shared their passion for improving the lives of women and girls in developing countries, and eradicating disease. And sharing that why made all the difference.

    Rapper and music producer Dr. Dre (Andre Young) champions the why for the Beats by Dre brand, and Beats Electronics, which was co-founded by he and music mogul Jimmy Iovine. They produce the high-priced Beats headphones and provide a streaming music service. Dr. Dre maintains a focus on what’s “cool” by ensuring they have the best quality sound, and overseeing marketing strategies in minute detail. He’s known as a perfectionist, a workaholic, and eschews market research in favor of his gut instinct, which has paid off handsomely for him in past music endeavors. This was reinforced when Apple recently purchased Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion.

    Steve Jobs was similarly known for avoiding market research because in his opinion, the customer doesn’t know what they want until someone shows it to them (yes, I didn’t know how much I needed my iPad until I got one). Jobs was famous for his product launches where he educated customers on the capabilities of new products and how it would help them. He spoke from the passion of his why instead of using a hard sell mode.

    Know Your Why

    The leadership of the Gates, Dr. Dre and Steve Jobs to define and communicate their company’s why attracts others who share the same why, and want to help them bring it to life. The why attracts customers to products and employees to positions. We identify with companies and brands that share beliefs similar to ours, that support causes we believe are worthy, and that provide services we feel are valuable. It takes focus for leaders to be clear about their why and to continuously steer their organizations in that direction, avoiding distractions and seemingly logical arguments to veer off track.  It requires a deep-rooted understanding of what you want to accomplish, and a personal belief in your ability to do so. It requires the ability to block out the glittering lights of other leaders’ why, that may look cool, but doesn’t match your passion and motivation.

    The driving cause or belief of your organization should evoke emotion and passion. It should be motivational. Sinek says that making money is the result, not the cause, and companies should think, act and communicate starting with their why. It engages employees and customers. So though you may think is obvious to all your stakeholders, take a moment to query those around you. If you’re not hearing consistent responses there’s an opportunity to provide clarity to your team and begin to drive that through all their decisions.  

    So know your why. Show your why. Grow your why

    Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

    Copyright Priscilla Archangel 2014

    Read about Dr. Dre and Apple here.

    Read the interview with Melinda Gates and Susan Desmond-Hellmann in Fortune here.

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    A Relationship of Trust


    How do you determine who to trust? How much trust can you place in those around you, and how much can you trust them with?

    A recent story chronicling the “re-education” of Mark Zuckerberg in the April 29th edition of Fortune provides a good example. With the fast paced growth of social media, apps and smart phones, Facebook needed an effective wireless strategy. This was the next big shift in technology, and if they missed it, the young company’s phenomenal successes could be short lived. Zuck, as he is commonly called by those in the business, turned to Mike Schroepfer his Chief Technology Officer, and Cory Ondrejka who was in charge of mobile engineering. Cory had co-founded Linden Lab which created the virtual world Second Life, and later started a tech company that Facebook recently purchased.  It was Cory who proposed not only restarting their current mobile efforts again from scratch, which would take precious time, but doing so in the midst of the much publicized IPO when investor scrutiny on their technology problems would be especially intense.

    After much discussion Zuck approved that approach, even though as he said, it was against his instincts. According to the article, his decision paid off as Facebook launched a new iPhone app in August 2012that has received top ratings in the App Store. While it may be too early to determine the long term success of that decision, there’s great learning in the “process” of making it.

    Man helping a woman up on a rockSo why would Zuck decide to trust the recommendation of these two men, even when it ran contrary to his normal approach and instincts?  Because he trusted them.  At that moment he made a conscious decision to place greater faith in their experience, analysis and resulting recommendation, than in his own. If they were wrong, he had more to lose than anyone else. The potential impact to his reputation and respect, his company, and his wealth could suffer a significant and possibly irretrievable blow.  But he knew that the current strategy wasn’t working, and he had to try something different, so he bought into it and exercised trust.


    Active Trust

    This type of trust in others is earned. Its an active verb, and it’s a choice. It comes as a result of several foundational elements.

    Confidence – belief in their abilities and their motives, that they’re reliable and dependable.

    Capability – they have expertise, past proven successes, and experience in a specific critical area.

    Consistency – exhibiting the same behavior and communicating the same values repeatedly such that it’s easy to predict their responses.

    Collaboration – willingness to work with others, exchange ideas and leverage the strengths of others in coming up with solutions to problems.

    Confidentiality – using good judgment in communications with others, and ensuring that information is shared only as necessary with appropriate persons.

    Now think of situations where you’ve placed a great deal of trust in someone else.

    ·        You trust your physician with your health.

    ·        You trust your business partner with your work.

    ·        You trust your financial planner with your investments.

    ·        You trust your spouse with your heart.

    ·        You trust your friends with your happiness.

    ·        You trust your work team with your ideas and strategies.

    ·        You trust your boss with your career.

    And yet you retain a measure of control over these “trusting” relationships, balancing the right amount of confidence, capability, consistency, collaboration and confidentiality that you place in them, with what they provide in return. It’s a reciprocal relationship, reinforced or weakened by every action or counter-action. You can “remove” the trust at any time, almost immediately, whether for cause or for instinct.

    Rock Climbing Trust

    So how do you grow to trust someone? And how much are you willing to trust them? For any productivity to occur we must trust others, because we’re incapable of finding fulfillment, achieving our goals, or attaining significance in life without having trusting relationships. And at the same time, we must display these same characteristics so that others will place their trust in us. But your ability to trust others is based in part on your ability to trust yourself. It is based on your ability to demonstrate the 5Cs in the same manner that you want others to demonstrate it. So because Zuck is able to experience and exhibit confidence, capability, consistency, collaboration and confidentiality, he recognizes it and shares it with others.

    I recognize that I’ll never be able to trust someone else in a certain area, unless I overcome my personal fears in that area.  For instance, I have no desire togo skydiving.  As someone eloquently said, why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane? My fear of having only a parachute on me at ten thousand feet above ground has nothing to do with my trust in the instructor or the pilot. It has everything to do with ME.  And unless I deal with that fear, I’ll never learn to trust them.  Similarly, while I might step on a narrow boulder a few feet off the ground, I cannot imagine ever (did I say ever) rock climbing and stepping up on a boulder thousands of feet off the ground (see the picture).  I’m afraid of that height and don’t trust my ability to master such a feat. Before I perform either act, I’d first have to learn to trust myself and gain more confidence, capability and collaboration before I could trust others to help me do it.  The same is true in marriage relationships and business relationships.

    So instead of examining others to determine if they’re worthy of our trust, we must first decide if we’re worthy of theirs. Do we display confidence, capability, consistency, collaboration and confidentiality? Do we behave in a manner that would make others want to trust us? Do we use those trusting behaviors to support others in their goals in a manner that creates a reciprocal relationship? I encourage you to practice these characteristics to build your relationships of trust.


    Read the Fortune article by Jesse Hemphill here.

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