In the last few weeks, I had some interactions with several Managers from teams past and present who I indirectly work with asking for advice on a surprisingly (or maybe not) similar topic.

  • How do I get the team who works for me, to understand me better?
  • How do I make the team who works for me, to stop being afraid of me?
  • How do I ensure they align with the priorities we have as a team?

Fortunately, these leaders are already familiar with the concept of Mr. Sinek’s Starting with WHY and so one of their questions were (which I am very happy about)

I already shared with my team “the WHY” of why we do things, but I can’t get them to fully buy in, how do I do that?

The advice I gave revolved around the following tips:

First, you need a tweak in mindset or at the very least, change the framing of your communication – The team doesn’t work for you, You’re the one who works for them. If you’re a Supervisor, you don’t have 15 people who serve you, you have 15 people who You need to take care of.

2nd, Exert effort to let them get to know you. Like everything that invokes Fear, it is rooted on understanding. They “fear” you because they don’t know you. Not well enough, and if they don’t know you well enough, they won’t understand you. And just like what they say in the X-Men movies, people fear what they don’t understand.

3rd, the best way for your people to get to know you is to Spend time with them. Some of the best teams that I have ever been on are teams where we make time for each other. Working silently in one conference room even if there is no meeting, eating together, going out together at least once a week. If it’s a young or newer team, the frequency should be at least twice a week.

4th, Every interaction needs to be genuine, Get to know them and find what is important to them, what primary emotions drive them out of your usual top 5; Greed, Fear, Love, Prestige and Guilt. You may use these as guidance in how to interact and how to position the team’s “WHY”, how they can contribute and how it benefits them.

Last, Find the Alpha. This one is for the more unusual or atypical situations especially if dealing with a larger group. 90% of bigger teams, look to someone within the team who is “the influencer “or “the alpha” This person may or may not be aware that he/she is the “unofficial leader” but you’d be wise to get to know, and get this person’s buy in and the rest of the group will naturally follow.

There are many other ways to do it but they need to be authentic measures. And once again, Authenticity means, everything you say and do, you actually believe.

Because these interactions and discussions were so engaging and interesting for me, this got me thinking about the concept of “WHY” and even though it’s one of the best ways that I have learned so far on how to build trust and build great relationships within the team, I think there are levels to it which is why its impact, execution and results vary from time to time.

My theory is it has 5 levels

Awareness – Whatever gets talked about the most, gets done. This is the fundamental level of Starting with WHY. You have to talk about it passionately and as often as you can making sure everyone in your team is aware.

Understanding – Once the details are clear and absorbed, comprehension can begin. It needs constant reinforcement to ensure it moves to the next step.

Acceptance – They recognize the benefits and the positive impact following your team’s WHY brings. Once you get to this step, behaviors start to change and momentum starts building. It’s only a matter of time till you get to the proverbial tipping point to

Advocacy – aka buy in. They believe and are now agents of change within your team. They get to the point where they not only speak passionately about the teams objectives but they now attract people with the same set of values and beliefs to be part of your team

DNA – I believe very few people get to this stage. Very rare but not impossible or unheard of. This is where the values and beliefs are ingrained and embedded to both behaviors and mindset. The stage where the team develops a clear sense of identity which is especially helpful if you are part of a large organization. This keeps your sense of purpose clear and spot on as well.


That’s my take. Where are you with your Teams? Do they know the real you? Are you spending enough time with them?  Do you genuinely know what is important to them? Do you know who your Alpha’s are?


Clarity and Consistency of the WHY in your teams is critical for sustained success. Make it TOP Priority


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