Why Your ‘Why’ Matters

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” – Norman Schwarzkopf

Understanding why you lead is just as important as how you lead. The motives behind your leadership role can significantly influence your decisions and ultimately, the success of your business.

Howard Schultz’ primary motive for leading was to create a sense of community and connection, building a “third place” between home and work, not just to sell coffee. This clear and service-oriented motive guided all strategic decisions at Starbucks, helping to transform a regional coffee chain into a global giant. His commitment to a purpose beyond profit exemplified leadership that was driven by a desire to positively impact customers and employees.

When leaders prioritize the well-being of their team and the larger mission over personal gain, they lay a foundation for loyalty, trust, and sustained success. Such leadership fosters a positive work environment and drives the company forward in a meaningful way.

Every leader should periodically reassess their motives. Are you in a leadership position just for personal benefits like status or financial gain? Or are you driven by a desire to make a positive impact on your team and contribute to the mission of your organization?

Action Step: Spend a few minutes today reflecting on your leadership motives. Write them down and honestly assess whether they align more with personal benefits or the collective good of your team and organization. If you find room for improvement, think about specific changes you can make to focus more on serving others through your leadership.

Remember, leadership starts with the right motives. Knowing why you lead is key to leading well.

To learn more about how the right leadership motives can shape your business and drive success, be sure to check out our book of the week: “The Motive” by Patrick M. Lencioni.

Leadership starts with the right motives. Knowing why you lead is key to leading well.

To learn more about the influence of leadership motives, be sure to check out our book of the week: “The Motive” by Patrick M. Lencioni.

Imagine you’re at the helm of a startup. You’re not just steering the company towards profitability; you’re guiding a team that looks up to you. The foundation of effective leadership lies in self-awareness, particularly about your motivations. Are you leading because you crave the status or the financial rewards it brings, or are you driven by a desire to make a real difference in your team’s life and the broader mission of your organization?

Consider the story of a tech startup founder who initially took on the role of CEO for the prestige and financial benefits it promised. Over time, however, they realized that these motives were leading to decisions that prioritized short-term gains over long-term sustainability and team well-being. This realization prompted a shift in their leadership approach, focusing instead on fostering a supportive and innovative work environment. The transformation not only improved company culture but also led to more sustainable success.

This anecdote underscores a pivotal insight: the motives that drive you to lead are as important as the leadership skills themselves. When your primary motive is to serve and build something greater than yourself, you naturally cultivate qualities like empathy, transparency, and perseverance. These qualities are essential for building trust and loyalty, which are indispensable in any successful venture.

Leadership that is grounded in the right motives encourages a focus on collective goals rather than personal gain. It’s about rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work, making tough decisions with fairness, and standing by your team during challenging times.

Action Step: Take some time today to reflect on your own leadership motives. Ask yourself why you want to lead and what impact you hope to have through your leadership. If you find that your motives could be realigned for better outcomes, consider how you can shift your approach to be more service-oriented.

Understanding and refining your leadership motives can significantly influence your effectiveness and satisfaction as a leader. If this topic resonates with you and you’re curious to explore more about the profound effects of leadership motives, you might find great value in reading a thought-provoking book that delves deeply into this subject.

Remember, the journey to becoming a great leader starts with knowing your ‘why’.

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