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I’ve always been an avid reader. I’ll confess; I have a book addiction rather than a shoe or shopping addiction. My children tell me that I won’t live long enough to read all the books I have. Yet still I buy more.

My leadership journey has definitely been enhanced by the knowledge I’ve found in some books. I see it as a form of mentoring, there’s so much you can learn from a good book. There are some great leadership and business minds out there who have written great books. I’d like to review one each week and share my findings with you.

To get this started there seemed no better place to begin than with Simon Sinek’s;

Start with WHY: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

In my humble opinion this has to be one of the best books on leadership.

In this book, Sinek clearly outlines what it takes to be a great leader. He discusses leading with the purpose behind what a business does rather how or what it does. Why you do what you do. As leaders we need to share this Why to get our team members completely on board and engaged.

Many leaders use fear, manipulation and authority to control their staff but as Sinek points out these tactics are awful for the staff member and they do not benefit the leader or the business long term.  Trust, loyalty and commitment are not built on fear.

Sinek shows us how inspiration plays a huge role in leadership, even more so than motivation or incentives. If a leader can inspire those who work for them, staff engagement will increase which will in turn have a positive effect on productivity and profits.

This has been my experience in running my business and also running the charity I founded in Vietnam (ACCV). If people don’t share your belief and your vision, it’s going to be very difficult to get the best out of them. On the other hand, when you have team members who get your vision it’s amazing how much they will bring to the table. After a few years of trial and error we now have a great team both here and in Vietnam, I’m often impressed at their initiative and commitment to achieve the goals we set.

Another thing I loved about this book was the step by step guide to using Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’ as a tool to discover and understand the Why of your business. Once you do understand it is so much easier to share it with others.

Sinek uses a few highly successful business models to demonstrate the value of leading with Why; Apple, Walmart, and Southwest Airlines are fine examples. He then turns back to your own business and leadership style and gives suggestions of how you can take it further and start sharing the Why of your business with your team.

I found the book to be packed with value as a leadership tool; this value is increased hugely with access to resources and podcasts available on his website.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in a position of leadership or running their own business. If I could only give one book to a small business owner, this would be it. I’ll also finish with my favourite quote from the book; I have this written down to look at regularly.

“As anyone who starts a business knows, it is a fantastic race. There is a statistic that hangs over your head – over 90 percent of all new businesses fail in the first three years. For anyone with even a bit of competitive spirit in them, especially for someone who defines himself or herself as an entrepreneur, these overwhelming odds of failure are not intimidating, they only add fuel to the fire. The foolishness of thinking that you’re a part of the small minority of those who actually will make it past three years and defy the odds is part of what makes entrepreneurs who they are, driven by passion and completely irrational.”

Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.

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