What Comes First Determines What Comes Next

July 26, 2018

Leadership and Motivation

Business requires a team effort. The inspiration may explode from the creativity of an individual, but realizing the potential of an idea? That requires followers, a team motivated to realize the vision, and customers that understand and want the promise.

Leadership is a central feature of entrepreneurship. Some entrepreneurs naturally attract followers, both as employees and customers. Many equally creative people never find their tribe of followers. The difference isn’t in the quality or the potential of the idea – the difference lies in leadership and the ability to articulate the shared creation of a better tomorrow. A better tomorrow for the entrepreneur – more sales – isn’t enough to motivate employees or customers. The followers, the internal team and the customers, must see the connection to their own better future. A shared better future.

My annual dose of leadership inspiration is coming up with the 2018 Global Leadership Summit (GLS) on August 9-10. GLS began in 1995 with a group of Chicago-area church ministers seeking to learn the best leadership practices from leaders in business and government. The thesis? The tools of great leaders are applicable across the silos of our lives, from family, business, civic-life, government service, charitable, efforts, and faith communities. We can learn leadership from people who lead in arenas other than our own and then go lead where we are. While the original audience was faith-based, the leadership instruction and examples come from both the secular and different faith traditions. Now almost 450,000 leaders participate annually from around the world.

GLS originates from Willow Creek Church in Chicago but is now simulcast to locations in every state, with more than 600 sites in the U.S. alone and 1,300 cities in 120 countries. Cities like Fort Wayne, Indiana sponsor GLS to stir civic renewal. Businesses host to develop teams and leaders. The original audience of faith communities remains as the first audience and a typical local host. Recent speakers included business luminaries like Melinda Gates, Alan Mulally, Dr. Brené Brown, and Patrick Lencioni. Other past high-profile speakers include entertainment mogul Tyler Perry, former U.S. secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

The Why Is What Matters

This year, I’m particularly looking forward to a return engagement by Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why.

Sinek is a personal favorite leadership teacher (especially with the passing of Stephen Covey). Start with Why illuminates that being great at the Hows and Whats of business (or life) are meaningless without clarity on a Why. A leader or a business without a clear Why wanders into irrelevance and becomes a commodity. That’s a hard way to make a difference and a harder way to make money.

Making money is a result of a great business but it is not the purpose that inspires employee and customer loyalty. It turns out that money is in the long-run a function of purpose. If you don’t know why you’re in business, how can you expect customers to care? Unless you start with Why, how can you find employees and customers that care about the same Why? What good are systems for How and What without a defining purpose of Why? Your why attracts and keeps a loyal team. Your Why defines your best, bullseye target customers. Your Why is the yardstick for decisions, essential as companies grow and decisions get delegated. And your Why is really what customers buy. Maybe most importantly? Your Why is the origin of the emotional and intellectual rewards of success and happiness.

Without a clear Why? It’s all just noise and stress.

Join the Global Leadership Summit

The NIACC Pappajohn Center is again a local GLS co-sponsor with the regional North Iowa host-sponsor Zion Lutheran of Clear Lake, Iowa. We join a collection of civic and business co-sponsors that recognize that great servant-leaders make for better communities. A large share of the regional business community attends. Consider attending this year. If you care about leadership or a particular cause, mission, purpose, or business? You’ll find inspiration and tools to make yourself a better leader – and a better follower.

The Global Leadership Summit are my two favorite days of my business year. Each time I leave with new insights, new tools, and renewed determination to live out my purpose, my Why. And help others find and realize their Why. My Why? My unique value proposition? I help entrepreneurs tell their best story in language meaningful to the listener. At its core, this is about helping entrepreneurs verbalize their Why with clarity. This is the core of entrepreneurship. Wherever you are, learn to inspire others. GLS will help.

Register for GLS today.

Hope to see you there.

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