I was at a black tie dinner on Friday. The guest of a large organisation working to serve the sector that I myself work in. I am always grateful to be invited - the product I hope of a reasonable upbringing! Equally, I always come away from such an event having met someone new, exchanged ideas, hatched a plan or found a kindred spirit. This occasion was no different. However, I did face one important and challenging question that resulted in a "deep and meaningful" chat. I was asked why, as a professional services business, we bother with a mission statement - an expression of our vision. The point made to me was a simple and forceful one. It went something like this "aren't you just a barnacle charging fees off clients, so why do you need a mission statement?" A fair point and one I may well have made when I was a client myself.
So I explained that having a purpose, a 'Why?", a reason to exist, a clear mission was the product of my learning about how one human chooses to work with another; why a person forms a relationship with another person. The world is full of people telling us all what they do. What they sell. What they can do for you. However, some 6 or 7 years ago, having been introduced to TED talks and the Do Lectures by Mike Smith from Clout - the person responsible for creating our visual and brand identity back at the start - I found Simon Sinek's talk and read his book "Why". His simple message that "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it" really resonated with me.
So that is why we have a mission; a personal, human and authentic statement of why we exist. Our defining purpose. Humans do remarkable things, they do the most remarkable things when they collaborate and work together. It's why we have evolved the way we have. So our simple mission "to create and develop the conditions for exceptional people to flourish" is our why. I told my dinner acquaintance. I'm not 100% sure he got it, but one thing is for sure. Every time I am called upon to explain I feel a sense of pride.
So having been inspired to have a mission and a "why" by Simon Sinek; inspired to look at this by Mike Smith at Clout who shared what he knew to help me to move forward; I thought I'd share something with you. That something is the video here from Simon Sinek on leadership. The human chemistry that he links to what leadership is all about is well worth your time. And trust me when I say that it confirms we are all leaders in our own ways...I hope you find this as useful as I did. Thanks Mike!
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it" Simon Sinek.