100th RECAP Best of the Bookshelf – Part 4 of 10

Posted May 25, 2016 in Latest News & Insights, Leadership

This April, we hit a milestone with The Roundtable RECAP our popular monthly newsletter – 100 Issues! To mark the occasion, we curated a list of our top 10 books that should definitely be on your bookshelf.

This week we go back to May 2011 for our #4 pick : Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

start with why by simon sinekThe Premise: Have you ever wondered why some organizations manage to not just survive market turbulence but seem to perpetually dominate their space? Think about Apple, Southwest Airlines, the Virgin group of companies…how is it that they inspire their customers to buy even when they may not be the cheapest or most convenient or most available? The reason, asserts Sinek, is their inspirational message. “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” The book walks you through Sinek’s argument for starting with “why” and how organizations often lose focus on the elements that made them successful in the first place by overemphasizing “what.” Sharing examples from companies like Apple and Southwest plus leaders like Martin Luther King, Sinek breaks down what it takes to inspire followers to follow.

The Bottom-line: Several of our members likely saw Simon Sinek present at last year’s Art of Management conference and could attest that his talk and topic is a thought provoker and a crowd pleaser. As a business owner, I certainly found the book of high value as I think about our own “why’s” for The Executive Roundtable. As a leader, the “stickability” of starting with why and inspiring followership is compelling. That being said, the majority of the examples used in the book tend to focus on business leaders (Steve Jobs, Herb Kelleher, etc) and the potential may be there to dismiss the lessons in here as something that only business owners or entrepreneurs should be thinking about. This would be a big mistake. Inspiring followership is a critical skill for leaders at all levels and the techniques discussed in Start with Why are absolutely relevant to anyone wanting to make an impact. My main criticism of this book is the limited examples used to reinforce the main message. Beyond Apple and Southwest Airlines (with Apple getting about 80% of the mentions), there are very few examples to reinforce Sinek’s point of view. And, personally, given Steve Job’s reputation as being a chronic a**hole (see bookshelf for our book review of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert Sutton), it’s a sad reminder that the ability to inspire can be leveraged by jerks as well as well intentioned leaders. *Sigh*.

Roundtable Rating: Great read for any leader wishing to “up” their inspiration quotient.

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