I have had a few discussions lately about the importance of being crystal clear on why we do what we do. Our purpose. The reason this is so important is beautifully described by Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why: “…people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
The same applies within your organisation. An organisation is in effect a market place. People are trading resources such as budget, people, assets and their time based on their perceptions of the value it will bring them in pursuit of their goals. Hence it is an imperative you are able to describe why you do what you do. Why a business unit needs a budget. Why the safety function exists. Why you should want to meet with me.
In the first instance this may seem a little strange, however, ask a few of your colleagues in your business unit and see what range of answers you get about why you do what you do. Unless you have sat down as a team and really thought through your why, you are likely to get a wide variety of answers. What message is that sending to others in your organisation?
In the absence of absolute clarity for others in the business about why you do what you do, they will make assumptions. They will assume “bean counter” or “auditor” or maybe “tree hugger” if you are from HR. It is up to you to wrest control of their perceptions about you.
If I am introduced to someone in the business arena for the first time and they ask what I do I say:
“I run leadership programs to help improve decision making because we’ve fallen into a bit of a trap. We’re using the excuse that decision making is difficult and we have accepted mediocrity.”
That why-statement starts a conversation which can lead in many directions.
What do you say? Will they want to buy-in?