Sean Van Staden
Columnist
3 minute read
14 May 2016
1:00 pm

If you know your ‘why’ you’re halfway there

Sean Van Staden

Everyone knows what they do, some will even know how they do it but very few people know why they do it.

Leicester City are still celebrating their Premier League triumph and rightfully so since it has been their first win in their 132-year history. The question on everyone’s lips is how in the world did they achieve the impossible? They didn’t have the best players, nor the best coach or even a massive budget.

Manchester City on the other hand have one of the biggest budgets in the Premier League and house some of the most talented players on earth. Manchester United have one of the best structures and Liverpool have the most loyal and supportive fans by their side.

If club investors have learnt one valuable lesson this year it is this: money alone cannot guarantee you success.

In relative terms let’s take Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Microsoft and Lenovo as examples. They are the top five computer companies in the world behind Apple. Yet Apple products remain the most desired on earth. The other four companies have the same, if not better, technology and creative minds as well as capital, yet they battle to overthrow the Apple giant.

What makes them so special if the playing field is literally level? The answer to Apple’s success and Leicester City’s success lies in the “WHY”, and the ability of great leaders to inspire action.

According to Simon Sineks’ Start with the Why, there is a simple codex and he calls this the golden circle. “WHY?” which is the inner circle, then you have the “HOW?” and lastly the outer ring of “WHAT?”.

According to Simon, applying the golden circle is the difference between leaders who can inspire and leaders who can’t. You need to watch Simon’s brilliant 26-plus million views on TEDtalk because here he explains that everyone on the planet knows what they do, some will even know how they do it but very few people know why they do it.

In football terms everyone in the Premier League knows they are professional footballers. Everyone should know how to perform in their position. But I can guarantee you not all 22 players know what their purpose is, what their cause or belief is or why their organisation exists.

In Leicester City’s case, and many of the teams that are in the bottom half of the table, their purpose might be just to survive in the Premier League with second-rate players the top half didn’t want.

Their purpose is to survive and not to win titles. Ask the bottom four teams of the PSL what their purpose is right now? I truly believe coach Claudio Ranieri of Leicester City gave the Foxes (and I will coin the phrase) “the apple effect”.

Ranieri, by a sequence of events throughout the year gave the players a “WHY” to believe in and subscribe to. Total buy-in allowed the coach’s vision to become a reality.

His vision was not to just stay in the Premier League; his vision is bigger and greater than the team’s. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Remember a little while back I wrote an article about a Harvard study of what made Sir Alex Ferguson so great?

He knew his “WHY” and he made sure that everyone, including his youth academy sides, knew it too. People who stepped out of line, no matter what their status or football royalty, were put on transfer.

It is probably making more sense to you knowing now, why Man United aren’t as successful today as they were under Sir Alex’s reign. Success comes to those who know why Ranieri’s why was so powerful that everyone around him wanted to be a part of it, just like Apple Klout today.

Ranieri has also earned the title of being a good leader and it is going to be exciting to see if he can maintain his success.