You probably understand that organizations need a “why message” to create emotional links with customers, clients, and colleagues. Everything companies with authentic why messages do, from the people they hire to the products they sell, springs from that deep sense of purposeWhen colleagues and customers trust the why of an organization, either because of an instinctive gut feeling or an actual understanding of how the business operates (or both), they are willing to follow that company through thick and thin.

But crafting a why message for your own career – what I call your Leadership Why – can be more challenging. Although most people agree that their companies should identify their purpose, they often assume that they themselves are just a small sub-set of that purpose. I disagree.

When you connect the dots between your own professional purpose and your organization’s overall mission, you begin to see what’s most important and how your skills can best contribute to the cause. Ask yourself the following questions to help you clarify your Leadership Why: that is, why you do what you do and why others should follow – so you can inspire people to join in and make a difference.

  1. Why do you do the type of work you do? What made you decide to get into this field? Were you trying to fill a particular need or solve a specific challenge?
  2. Why should others follow you in this endeavor? Are there details about your background that can help you not only connect with your audience, but will also endear you to them?
  3. How does your work, and that of your colleagues, improve people’s lives? Even if you don’t connect directly your organization’s end users, can you articulate what makes your products or services so relevant? (When I was working in television – by no means a life-saving effort – I still believed in the value of entertainment.)
  4. How can you make connections that create career longevity for you and lasting impact for your company? Can you identify a series of connective touch points for customers and colleagues that adds value at every stage of the relationship?

Remember that crafting your Leadership Message is all about defining your purpose, linking it to your company’s mission, and sharing it with others. When you’re inspired by your why, other people will be, too!