The most widespread type of business leadership has been based, traditionally, on starting projects after a briefing among a team of professionals. The purpose of that meeting was to define what was intended to be done, how it should be done and the importance of achieving certain goals.
This outline, however, is already obsolete in some companies. Many of them have adopted an organizational philosophy that writer Simon Sinek made popular almost a decade ago through TED forum, a place where the most innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs in the world take part annually.
In that famous talk, Sinek focused mainly on the relationship between companies and their customers. But the guru also emphasized the relevance of what he calls “golden circle”, a concept easily applicable to work environments strictly. Interestingly, it consists in reversing the traditional order: it starts by presenting the reason behind an action or task intended to be carried out to the professionals of a team. This way, human capital gets involved with greater motivation to reach a certain goal.
According to Sinek, “there are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence, but those who lead inspire us”. And inspiration is a big step towards change, which is, in turn and more often than not, the first step to success.
Business leadership under causal knowledge
Long before Sinek, there was another visionary who anticipated this kind of business leadership. His name was Dale Carnegie, an American entrepreneur and writer who was one of the most influential minds of the 20th century in the field of human relations and communication. He called the importance of WHY “an appeal to the nobler motives”. In other words, the need to explain somebody the reason behind doing something before doing it, and how that’s closely related to that particular individual.
This organizational approach has a solid scientific foundation. Art Markman, professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas claims that the epicentre of innovation is “a strong, causal knowledge” that enhances the capability of any staff to devise and implement innovative solutions to problems.
According to Markman, organizations can promote this technique through the creation of a culture in which the “reason behind” doesn’t have any negative or conflictive connotation, but rather seen as a “positive force” in the workplace. The right way to start is, paradoxically, with another “why”, spreading among all members of the company the reason behind maximizing the importance of said causal knowledge.
Beyond business leadership within teams, the importance of the “reason behind” has beneficial effects in terms of talent attraction and retention. There’s an increasing number of HR professionals who concur that attracting the best professionals depends, to a certain extent, on conveying the purpose of an organization the right way.
Simon Sinek, in that regard, says that “the goal is not to hire people who need a job; it’s hiring people who believe the same as you do”.