In one of the most popular TED talks of all time, Simon Sinek addresses a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership in his talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action. He introduces a concept called the Golden Circle, stating that all great leaders communicate from the inside out versus the outside in. This inner most circle is the why, followed by the bigger circle, the how, and the outside or biggest circle is the what.
Most people simply communicate the what (think features, facts and figures) followed by the how and expect people to act on this information by buying a product, or engaging in a health promotion program for example. But this isn’t how the most influential leaders communicate. We often forget the most vital part of the Golden Circle, the why. He states this research is based in our biology of the brain.
We can learn from the examples he states, including Apple, Martin Luther King and the Wright Brothers. Why addresses your purpose, your calling, even why you exist.
So how can we integrate this information into an employee wellness program? Instead of communicating what (which should simply be the proof of what you believe) employees should do to stay healthy (join this weight management program, for example) or how they should do it (set SMART goals, create a wellness vision, exercise 30 minutes each day and eliminate processed food), isn’t nearly as powerful or effective as communicating why you do it.
The why may address why the company cares about employees’ health. The why can also be drawn out from a health or wellness coach who takes the time to thoughtfully inquire as to why losing weight matters to the client. The client will then create her own powerful and motivating why. She may list out things such as, “so I have energy for my kids,” “so I can see my grandkids grow up,” or possibly “so I can walk down the aisle in a wedding dress and feel the most beautiful I have ever felt.”
The why is where leaders can inspire employees into action by communicating this at corporate wellness kick off events, through a video or letter to their employees. It’s also where a trained wellness coach can have a client tap into her deepest longings and truest feelings to cultivate an inspirational and personal why.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” is stated more than once in Sinek’s powerful talk. How is your leadership communicating the why? Do you have health or wellness coaches in place to deepen and personalize one’s why? Tapping into the why will truly inspire people.
Kristine Keykal, Co-Founder & CEO of AdvantageHealth, has been helping businesses create custom, award-winning corporate wellness programs for over 20 years.