How to inspire action in people

Simon Sinek, the author of Start With Why, says there are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Most people, however, over-rely on manipulations to influence action on others.

Bosses, for example, might issue a threat to sack an under-performing employee or a company could dangle bonuses to spur productivity among staff.

Businesses also tend to follow the route of manipulations to achieve sales. They manipulate customers’ purchasing decisions through price dropping, using fear, peer pressure or aspirational behaviour. This, according to Sinek, is less effective in developing customer loyalty and has been the cause of failure for many businesses.

“Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces cost, it provides peace of mind. Like loyal friends, you know your customers and employees will be there for you when you need them most.”

Sinek says that for your company to attract a cult-like following like Apple Inc, you have to inspire action rather than manipulate people. Influence stems from clearly knowing and articulating WHY you do what you do. “What is your purpose, cause or belief? Why does your company exist? Why do you wake up every day? Why should anyone care?”

“If you ask most businesses why their customers are their customers, most will tell you it is because of superior quality, features, price or service. In other words, most companies have not a clue why their customers are their customers. If companies don’t know why their customers are customers, odds are good that they don’t know why their employees are their employees.”

He adds that when companies do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need.

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Knowing your WHY is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others. And buckling, or even collapse, is the only logical conclusion when manipulation is the only course of action.   

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