goldencircle If you were to ask me what one person, besides my phenomenal family, has made the greatest impact on my life in the last several years, the answer would be simple: Cindy Tortorici.   Cindy has served as my mentor, then a business partner and forever a deeply cherished friend since our first breakfast meeting in 2009. At that time, I had recently relocated to Portland from Manhattan and started my own coaching business.  I literally knew no one in town on a professional basis.  I had also just taken on the role of the Director of Ladies Who Launch for Oregon and discovered that all of the previous members had fled the organization to follow their former leader’s new ‘me too’ group.  I reached out to many of the leaders of women centered business groups with the intention to simply form strategic partnerships and build my own network.  While others reacted to this move with distrust, that perhaps I was going to poach their members, Cindy greeted me with a huge smile and took me under her incredible wings.  And now I know why.  Her “WHY” is to help people not be alone.  And, I was, unequivocally, alone.

Cindy is the CEO and Founder of The Link for Women. She has helped me and countless men and women understand their underlying drive and motivations throughout their personal and professional lives by utilizing a simple model of Simon Sinek’s called the Golden Circle.  Our mutual colleagues, Carmen Voilleque and Randy Harrington perfectly captured Cindy’s core beliefs in their book, Evolutionaries:

Cindy Tortorici: In my work as a strategic planner, I often draw from the concept of the “Golden Circle” created by Simon Sinek. Sinek explains that when you ask people about their organizational strategy, they almost always start with the “What”; they will tell you what the business does. If you push them harder they will go to “How”-how their businesses gets work done, or how they serve customers, but rarely are people able to tell you their “Why”-why they do the business they do-why it matters. The best leaders tell their story in the opposite direction, starting with Why and moving out to the How and the What. I believe that at its core, leadership is about trust, and trust starts with Why. Especially in this economic environment, people are looking for leaders that they can trust. These are the people they will choose to follow.

Just as your organizational strategy depends on Why, How and What, so does your personal leadership strategy. The best leaders need to be self aware and know the Why behind their leadership. Think about your Why as being your motivator for doing the work that you choose to do. It takes time to work on ourselves and it can be a daunting task, but if we don’t have our own house in order we cannot lead others effectively. When we know ourselves we stand a little taller; we become more confident. We are better able to collaborate, participate, step up and volunteer our strengths, and admit when we don’t know something. We are more authentic, and more comfortable with who we are. People are drawn to and will follow that kind of leader”.

Cindy and I co-facilitate a seminar series, called The Link’s “A Seat at The Table: and Getting It” for women headed towards executive roles in addition to consulting for large corporations.  No matter what size group we are working with nor the particular level of the attendees, we always start off our work with asking people to uncover their Golden Circle.  It is the root of all of our motivations and helps inform us when we are trying to make critical professional decisions and set strategy.  I will admit, it is not something that typically is unveiled overnight. Uncovering your Golden Circle can take time and oftentimes the support of others to help you reveal your true sentiments.

Here’s my Golden Circle, perhaps reading it will help you reflect more meaningfully on your own Why, What and How.  For me, getting crystal clear on these answers has consistently helped me in making strategic decisions about the best route to take for my business and for my own development and that of my clients:

My Why is that I want to alleviate pain and inspire action.

My HOW is I ignite and embolden women and men to become more effective, inspired business leaders.

My WHAT is I provide consulting and coaching services to executives, managers and entrepreneurs as well as write a blog, a forthcoming book and produce regular television segments all in the service of leadership development.

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Now, tell me readers, what do you think your Why, How and What are? Knowing the answers to these questions will make ALL the difference in your life today. I guarantee it.

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