The Answer is “Why?”

whyAuthor: Karen Moloney

Do you know what your “why?” is?

Do you know what your organisation’s “why?” is?

Why is either “why?” important?

Traditionally, businesses have been run on the principal of making money.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that money is key to most things in our modern world, but we are seeing more of a shift towards purpose as a driving force in business rather than making stacks of money (although if you talk to investment bankers they would likely have a different view!).

I attended a breakfast networking session this week hosted by the Australian Learning & Development Network which featured a presentation on “Leadership Legacy”.

The premise of the content was that we should be living a legacy rather than leaving one.

That idea really appeals to me.

The presenters were Rob Metcalfe and Brendan Gregor who talked about work they had done at Brendan’s organisation SAS to embed a legacy of leadership.

In order to do this, they knew they had to tap into something other than the behaviour of their leaders.

People will only behave in a certain way if they want to.

And that want is driven by their “why?”.

If their “why?” is aligned with the organisation’s “why?” then it’s not behaviour that needs to change, it’s the conditions for success that need to be created to help execute the “why?”.

Both Rob and Brendan were very open about the fact that it took around 5 years and some changes in key personnel before they could see clear benefits from their work – but it worked.

And their “why?” was at the core of everything they did.

12 years on, this leadership mindset is firmly entrenched in the company culture, in its language, in its onboarding programs, in talent reviews – everywhere.

Their story is an inspiring one, especially when you consider the change they have brought about in a global organisation of over 10,000 employees.

I discovered “why?” a couple of years ago when I started to make changes in my business because I was feeling unfulfilled in my work and like everything was a challenge.

Challenge can be a good thing and something I thrived on for years in this industry, but these challenges were starting to affect me negatively rather than positively which I knew signalled the time to change my game plan.

The process of defining my “why?” was interesting, exciting and very confronting at times, but now that I have gone through the exercise I am clearer about what tasks I need to engage in, who I need to partner with, who I need to hire, what the goals are for the business – and so many other things.

It has given me clarity.

Which is why I’m sharing this post, because I think if more organisations were clear on their “why?”, they would have more engaged workforces that will help them achieve their goals.

The younger generations coming into the workplace are looking for employers with purpose, so if your organisation doesn’t know its “why?” yet, I suggest they start thinking about it.

Below are two videos you can watch to start understanding the value of defining your “why?”.

The first is from a US Comedian called Michael Jr., that was used in the SAS presentation (which I’m not afraid to say gave me a bit of a lump in the throat!). This is a very real demonstration of how someone’s actions can change because of their “why?”.

The second is a TED talk from visionary thinker Simon Sinek who discovered the concept of the Golden Circle and popularised the concept of “Why?”. This explains a bit about how to start defining your why.


Here are some other resources you may want to explore:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

The Australian Learning & Development Network (free to join and free to attend events)

Books by Simon Sinek


My “why?” is to empower others to do their best work.

What’s yours?



If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our free community, you can sign up here.