Why ‘Why’ Changes Everything…

February 11, 2020

When I first became chief at 34 years of age, there wasn’t a thing called “Google” or the internet. There were no blogs, there were no websites where a young leader could go to find relevant information.  There was the library. One of the first books I remember reading was Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Since then, I’ve re-read it among many other books on leadership multiple times.

One of the first things I developed as part of my leadership philosophy is what I called the “Do Right” Doctrine – “Do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time and in the right way.”  It was the closest I would come for many years to developing my “why” of leadership.

Over the next several decades, I began to understand more and more about leading others and how difficult it was depending on the maturity level of the leaders I was trying to develop. I didn’t fully develop this concept until recently when I took what Covey had created with the Levels of the 7 Habits (Levels 1, 2, and 3) and created three levels of maturity of leaders (Dependent, Independent and Interdependent).

Those who are Dependent leaders tend to be at the survival stage of leadership. Their focus is on “I” or what affects them personally. All or most of us start there and, over time mature to the next level. Independent leaders have matured to become successful leaders and their focus tends to be on “We”. Many leaders will spend their entire career at the “We” stage and think they’ve been great leaders. However, it isn’t until you decide to become an Interdependent leader that you have reached the maturity level of a significant leader. You become that person who has hundreds at their funeral saying “that person was a significant person in my life.

Significant leaders see the bigger picture. Significant leaders know and live their “why” of leadership. They know how to explain that “why” to others and have a methodology of leading that raises the maturity level of those they lead. 

Your “why” is key to determining the maturity level of yourself as a leader as well as the maturity level of those you lead. I believe this so strongly that I challenge each of you to think about what your “why” statement is. My exercise for this is simple, just follow these steps:

  • list three people who would be on your personal Mount Rushmore if you will.
  • Think about and list the qualities of those 3 individuals on your Mt. Rushmore
  • Then answer the following questions:
    1. Why did you take the job as a leader?
    2. What do you want to accomplish as a leader?
    3. What do you want your leadership legacy to be?
  • Then list your main professional roles and separately your main personal roles
  • Craft a “why” statement for each of those roles

Some folks find it easier to develop one overarching “why” statement that explains why they do what they do as a professional, a parent, a spouse, a friend, etc.  The statement won’t be perfect and will likely be changed many times over the years, however, the key is to think through those significant events and people that have shaped you and made you who you are. What were the values, character traits, etc. that impacted you and then write it down.

Our LHLN company “why” statement is ‘to inform, inspire and educate others so as to help them live a purpose-driven life.’  

It’s simple and clearly explains what we are all about – changing the lives of those we touch every day for the better.

Knowing your “why” provides clarity. It provides purpose to your leadership. Simon Sinek who started the “why” statement movement said it best and it applies to all businesses and all people working on their why statement.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy “why” you do it.”

So what’s your “why”? Please share it in our blog forum. We would love to hear your thoughts. Also, be sure to follow us on social media:

Twitter:    @LHLN5

Facebook:  LHLN

Instagram: LHLNCRISP

LinkedIn: LHLN

As always, leadership rocks!


Author, Instructor, Coach

Dean Crisp

“Knowing your ‘why’ provides clarity.”


Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>