IT’S THE “WHY” THAT MATTERS

12
November 2012

Last month I began promoting my new Executive Coaching service and in the last few weeks I have picked up three new clients. I don’t know if there is any relation between my promotion and these new clients, but it’s very exciting. My new clients are:

Switzer Learning Center: a special education school and treatment program that is dedicated to helping students with moderate to severe learning, emotional and behavioral problems.

Regeneration: whose mission is seeding the Middle East with an educational philosophy that embraces life, learning the arts, the earth and all children.

Mychal’s Learning Center: assists children and adults with developmental disabilities to build self esteem and independence by providing social and recreational activities with emphasis on life skills training in a safe and loving environment.

All three of these assignments involve executive or fundraising coaching. In our current environment, effective fundraising is central to every agency’s existence, and the leadership for this must reside in its chief executive. Some agencies are able to hire a fundraising staff; still, it is the executive who is in the best position to articulate the mission and vision of the agency. They are able to express the ‘why’ of their agency’s existence. Unfortunately, most agencies focus on the ‘how’ or ‘what’ questions, when the real key to success is in the ‘why’.

The ‘why’ is stated in the agency’s mission and vision statements, but are not adequately emphasized in their materials. Recently I was reviewing a client’s new video, which was full of the ‘whats’ and the ‘hows’, and did not mention the ‘why’. It left me cold!  It sounded like every other agency that provides the same services. The mission of this agency was to make an impact on the lives of the people in the community they serve, to strengthen the community and its citizens, but this was not the focus. It was the services; tutoring, music, soccer, etc.

Recently I was watching TED talks and came across a video, which hit the nail on the head. It outlined a Golden Circle and indicated that all good leaders communicate from the ‘why’. Their communication inspires people to buy their product, or follow their cause. The theme of the talk was “people don’t buy what you do, but what you believe”. Simon Sinek ties this into our biology. He says our limbic brain, which is responsible for our feelings, like ‘trust’ and ‘loyalty’ is also responsible for all decision making.

Fundraising is based on an emotional appeal rather than rational decision making. People respond to the cause, not the service. Yet we focus on the services we provide, not ‘why’ we provide them.

I will focus initially in all my coaching assignments on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’ or ‘what’, because we cannot really be effective in the human services delivery unless we can sell why we are doing our services rather than what services we are providing.

To see Simon Sinek’s presentation, go to: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

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