Who fails more often the leaders who live by great why or a great what?

Rick McPartlin

Simon Sinek told us about the power of WHY, HOW, WHAT communication and like everything else we all have a preference for one of those over the other.

Often there are leaders with powerful WHYs that get investment capital, great early staff and early adaptor customers lining up to be first to experience the WHY. This group tells powerful stories, paints a compelling future and explores future options.

Even more often there are leaders who are all about execution and execute they well. They also get investment capital and staff who love to execute and execute and execute. This is the perfect model for a fulfillment bubble market. There is a BIG demand that needs big fulfillment now and execution is what it takes.

Each of these look good for a while like great successes and then flame out. The first leader gets a fast market valuation based on the compelling future, takes the company public and spends all that cash, but never figures out now to monetize the WHY in the market.

The second leader dives into the market, delivers a good product in volumes that meet the market demand. But this leader doesn’t have a WHY. They are in business to produce as much stuff as possible, as fast as possible, for as much money as possible. Yet when the market demand goes away the staff move on and the money dries up.

Both are built on myths (partially true evidence) and look good for a short time. The WHY leader fails earlier and breaks the hearts of those who love the WHY. The WHAT leader often makes a lot of money in the bubble and then bursts. Both are temporary and incomplete.

If you are the entrepreneur don’t build either of these if you are in for the long-term. But if you are OK with in fast, out fast and let the next guy go broke a WHAT company is that option.

If you are an employee and want to work someplace great join the WHY leader and push for HOW and WHAT. If you want a job where you can make a lot of fast money and move on, then join the WHAT team early and exit while your checkbook is full.

Find or create a great long-term company with a leadership team that started with WHY and has HOW and WHAT team members in the C-suite making sure the organization is complete and long-term.


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