I have recently been running training courses in New Zealand in a range of areas from leadership, high performance and commercial acumen.  It has been enjoyable and allows me to interact with a range of very positive and constructive people. When running these group courses, we discuss a lot of themes that centre on how leaders and leadership teams effectively engage staff in a range of areas.  We explore what works and what doesn’t, as well as working through how important engaging the hearts and minds of staff is, regardless of the topic, in order  to be an effective leader.

This is quite challenging for most leaders to get their head around.  Coming from a strong technical background in a lot of instances often means that they can relate and connect to the technical side of theirs and their staff’s job – what needs to be done and how it should be undertaken. When you see a group of leaders all with strong preferences towards task orientation, it often means that the tasks are done very well. However, what is often left behind is engaging the hearts of their staff.  Give them insight: why is doing this important?  Why will this benefit our organisation?  Why do we need to make the changes we are working through now?  Why are our partners, community and stakeholders so important?

Regardless of background, culture or organisation, the common theme that comes out around these discussions is ‘the why’.  This is much better put by Simon Sinek in his inspirational TED talk called ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’:

[ted id=848]

In this talk, he outlines how critical it is for leaders to connect their teams to ‘the why’.  This is illustrated through the golden circle he outlines in his TED talk:


Simon outlines that not only do leaders need to start with ‘the why’. He stresses that without people connecting to ‘the why’, you will never effectively engage, inspire and shift them to move to the cause and to really commit to the activities you are looking for them to engage in.  This TED talk is a must-watch for any leader who is serious about elevating the manner in which they communicate and enhancing the impact they have on their teams.

This one small shift makes a massive difference to people connecting to your cause.  Regardless of whether you are leading a major project, organisation, key change program or initiative, your ability to communicate is greatly enhanced by starting with ‘the why’, working through ‘the what’ and empowering your people to own ‘the how’. This shift of connecting your people to your cause will move them from feeling like they merely ‘have a job’, to feeling truly  engaged, better connected to why they are doing what they’re doing, and unification around how important what they are doing is to the bigger picture.

Shift your communication with this one strategy and watch your engagement levels soar within your organisation and projects.