Leading with “WHY”

Cheri recommended me to be the keynote speaker for the Annual Regional Residential Life Conference hosted by State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland (500+ Res Life paraprofessional leaders and their advisors). In preparation, I sought the insight of Dr. Dan Shipp whose leadership style I greatly admire. Dan introduced me to my first Ted Talk video, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, by Simon Sinek, 2009. In the video Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle where instead of acting, thinking, and communicating from the outside in, as most organizations do, Sinek’s marketing research revealed that the most successful leaders with the most loyal followers did just the opposite – They communicated from the INSIDE OUT. In other words they started with WHY! Dan then challenged me to determine my why. I not only used the concept of WHY to execute my first keynote engagement, I have been using it to guide my leadership ever since. Below is a description of my current manifestation of my golden circle. As illustrated in the image above, there are three components to the Golden Circle that Simon Sinek proposed: the Why, the How, and the What.
The WHY is described as, “the single purpose, cause, or belief that serves as the unifying, driving, and inspiring force for an individual or organization”. It is why you do what you do. After many revisions I currently articulate that, “My WHY” is to affirm and develop transferable skills / competencies to help people articulate their current and future potential”. 
The HOW is described as, “verbs or actions to be performed, your value proposition, or the features that sets you apart or makes you special”. I use my knowledge, experiences, and lessons learned to help provide the space and/or opportunities for myself and others to explore their passion, curiosity, and potential
The WHAT is described as “the output or results of your action” for instance, the products sold, services offered, or features of your or your organization. I actualize my why by advising student organizations / leaders, engaging in curriculum development, speaking, consulting, coaching, conducting research, writing, supervising / developing professionals, teaching, facilitating workshops, conducting assessments and program evaluation, conducting research then presenting and publishing the findings, as well as being involved in the student affairs profession. The results of my actions are (1) well developed leaders, (2) learning  outcome driven  programs, courses, and training sessions/workshops, (3)  transparent and  archived processes and (4) organizations with  solid foundations. See my professional biocurriculum vitae, or LinkedIn Profile to find out more about what I have done in my career.

3 comments on “Leading with “WHY”

  1. My daughter is a junior at Texas State, working towards her finance degree. She is applying for grants, and needs to write an essay describing her future intentions. I showed her this blog entry “Leading with Why”. She immediately stated her “why”, which then made the how and the what obvious. So, thank you for your guidance.

  2. She received two merit scholarships. 90% of the scholarships awarded at Texas State were financial need scholarships. She earned too much money in her part-time job to qualify for financial need, but the grantors saw her academic achievements and singled her out for merit scholarships.

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