Why: a lesson in leadership and influence from Telstra.
While watching TV recently I noticed the new Telstra ad, “Australia is why.” Have you seen it? It’s a perfect example of the importance of your ‘why’ or ‘purpose.’
By now you’re probably familiar with Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” and Telstra has obviously been paying attention. They are presenting a clear message that they don’t exist just to sell telephones: they exist to keep Australians connected and supported.
“Australia is why we get up in the morning. It’s why we support the country’s diverse communities, fans of the footy, and art orgs so they can do what they do best. It’s why we’re doing our bit to protect our unique ecosystems (and all the critters that live in them). And, yup, it’s why we make sure a dad in the bush can call his daughter in London to catch up.”
Telstra has defined its brand position and explained it through very human stories we can all relate to. By the end of the ad, we can see what drives the company to do the work it does and this proves to be a lesson in leadership and influence.
Why does this matter?
As Simon Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do; people buy WHY you do it.
It’s not just about image. Research shows 46% of consumers pay close attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when they buy a product. They need to know the brand has a reason to exist. Other research shows that when employees are connected with brand purpose, 747% more likely to be highly engaged, and 49% less likely to burn out.
Those figures are impressive, but guess what? As a former CEO and now Executive Coach to Australia's Top Executives, I see these results translate on a personal level too. When leaders share their ‘why,’ they gain more attention from peers and greater support from their teams.
When people understand the why, they are more motivated to follow and act on it.
Why are you a leader?
What drove you to choose leadership as a career? Not everyone wants to lead. Those who choose to lead rarely do it for the money. While money is important, there’s only fleeting satisfaction with money, isn’t there? Perhaps you wanted to inspire change. Perhaps you wanted to help others achieve their potential. Perhaps you felt you could see a better way forward for your company.
Your ‘why’ is what motivates you to keep going, even now, during this difficult period.
It’s your ‘why’ which differentiates you from everyone else who calls themselves a leader.
It’s your ‘why’ that will guide you through the difficult choices and decisions you need to make – and help you make the right ones for your people.
It’s your ‘why’ that keeps you aligned with your values.
It’s your ‘why’ which forms the heart of your personal brand, which you’re known and respected for.
Define your ‘why.’
Why are you or do you want to be a leader? What is your purpose?
If you struggle to answer those questions, it’s time you put some hard thinking into your why.
- What does leadership mean to you?
- Who is the best leader you know of and what makes them so special?
- What difference do you want to make and to whom or to what?
- Why you? What can you offer that’s going to make a difference?
- Where do you want to lead your people or your company? (Your vision)
- What matters to you? (Your values)
When you understand your ‘why’ it’s almost impossible not to share it! If you take the time to understand what drives you as a leader, it shows in everything you do. It gives you a firm basis to explain your choices to others, so they recognise your values and respect your decisions. Your people will become involved and excited by your ‘why’. It forms part of their motivation to do the best work they can. It’s inclusive and engaging. It’s what gives you the ability to influence rather than dictate.
Is it too late in your career to start following your ‘why’?
I’ll leave you with more wise words from a TV advertisement. This time it’s from Deakin Uni and a poem by Berton Braley, called Opportunity. The future belongs to the ready.
With doubt and dismay you are smitten
You think there's no chance for you, son?
Why, the best books haven't been written
The best race hasn't been run,
The best score hasn't been made yet,
The best song hasn't been sung,
The best tune hasn't been played yet,
Cheer up, for the world is young!
The chances have just begun, For the Best jobs haven't been started, The Best work hasn't been done.
The future belongs to the ready – are you ready, are you future fit?
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Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished, award-winning CEO and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience-based to achieve rapid development and growth.