Career Partners International

What can leaders do to tap into the discretionary effort and commitment needed from work teams today

“I read somewhere” is a line I often use when conveying an idea that resonated with me, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where I read it. I read a lot, and at any given time, I may be reading two or three books (not a good habit, I know), so it’s not unusual to not remember which book the idea came from. But I’ve read a few books that I can always seem to reference without hesitation, including subtitles and authors. These books are ones I continue to go back to; I’m just drawn to them. I learn something new each and every time I read them. One of those books is Simon Sinek’s Start With Why.
Start With Why is a book that gets at the fundamentals of why we do what we do. It’s a book that William Ury, coauthor of Getting to Yes describes as “one of the most useful and powerful books I have read in years. Simple and elegant, it shows us how leaders should lead.”
More than ever, leaders are looking for ways to lead that will inspire and energize teams to continue delivering high-quality products and services despite the uncertainty created by the pandemic. Remote work teams, distance learning, isolation, and changes to family life created by social distancing have put an enormous amount of pressure on all of us. It seems that our personal and professional lives have just blended together. The hour on the clock no longer signals a distinction between work and play.
So what can leaders do to tap into the discretionary effort and commitment needed from work teams today?
Drive home the “why” you are all doing what you are doing. Why are you in business, aside from making money, and why should you care?
As Sinek describes in his book, everyone can say “what” they do, and everyone can say “how” they do it, but the differentiator, the one factor that determines why for example, one computer company (Apple) can outperform another (Dell), is that they understand “why” they do what they do.
Once a team understands “why” they do what they do, the other things can fall more neatly into place.
The “how” they are going to accomplish the “why” then becomes easier to clarify. The “how” then becomes thinking about who will perform the work and what is needed to get the work done. What is needed gets at the strengths and competencies required of the people filling the roles.
One tool I use to help leaders create a “recipe” for success is the Workplace Big 5. This assessment has many applications, and its high reliability and validity make it invaluable. Identifying potential strengths and weaknesses and where ones’ natural energy resides is very useful to leaders when understanding how to put together highly effective work teams or enhance an existing work team’s performance.
My advice to leaders everywhere is to read Start With Why by Simon Sinek, or for those with little time, visit and go to Simon Sinek’s talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Use this to get crystal clear on your “why,” then utilize an assessment like the Big 5 to start putting the right team in place.

To learn more about assessments and team building workshops, contact Roberta Bemiller at 716-445-0275 or reach out via email at

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