How Leaders Seduce Us

There are as many different formulas for leadership development as there are brands of cereals at your local supermarket. Why is it that some CEOs inspire people to go beyond their job descriptions? And, why do so many others not inspire dedication and loyalty?

I believe it comes down to better communication skills. Great leaders are persuasive story tellers. They inspire action by letting people know what they’ve personally experienced, the perils, and the payoffs.

They seduce us. We want to help, we want to join their cause. We want what they have.  We become energized.

To succeed, leaders need to clearly communicate what they believe and why they’re so passionate about their cause. There’s no better way to do that than with emotional stories, according to business consultant Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Portfolio, 2010).

Most people know what they do and how they do it, Sinek says, but few communicate why they do what they do.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy into why you do it,” he writes.

If you don’t know and cannot communicate why you take specific actions, how can you expect employees to become loyal followers who support your mission? Great leaders inspire us when they connect with our hearts and emotions, says Sinek, who presents his ideas on TED TV.

Great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Walt Disney always communicated their “why”—the reasons they acted, why they cared and their future hopes. Great business leaders follow suit:

  • Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, believes air travel should be fun and accessible to everyone.
  • Apple’s Steve Wozniak believes everyone should have a computer and, along with Steve Jobs, set out to challenge established corporations’ status quo.
  • Walmart’s Sam Walton believed all people should have access to low-cost goods.
  • Starbucks’ Howard Schultz wanted to create social experiences in cafés resembling those in Italy.

Think about it… what core values should you be communicating through stories that would seduce and inspire people to join you and your cause?

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