4 Things That Happen When You Have a Shared WHY


What can you expect when you lead your team towards a shared vision? A whole lot of awesomeness, for sure.

In his Ted Talk, Simon Sinek talks about the importance of organizations starting with the WHY and in my last post, I discuss the significance for us as educators. While it is imperative for us individually to be anchored in and clarify our purpose, having a collective, shared WHY creates exponential, and sometimes even unexpected, benefits.


People Come & Go

As your team develops and clarifies a shared vision, some people will begin to realize that they don’t feel the same passion and purpose that is represented by this shared why. It may not happen initially, when the team is starting their collective journey, but if this shared purpose is authentic and nurtured, it becomes a strong force that makes it easy for those who don’t share that deep-to-the-core purpose to realize that their path may be different. This can mean a completely different career and life goal or different can be another team or organization to join. And not only is that okay, it is a good thing when people become clear about their personal journey.

While some people are realizing their path is veering another way, there will be others who see that their path merging. These people start knocking down the doors to join and they communicate their shared passion and purpose from the moment they step through the door. These new team members, because their path merges and aligns, accelerate the entire team along their path in a way that is motivating and rejuvenating for all.

Others Take Note

As a shared WHY is nurtured and clarified, people outside of your organization will notice. It is hard to ignore a group of people who have endless passion and energy and are communicating the same inspiring message. When the journey is powered by a real and deep belief, that story is positive, loud and that story gets heard.

Challenges Become Easier

As obstacles presents themselves, bumps and hurdles along the journey collectively become easier to handle. Have a touch decision that has to be made? A common filter for decisions both big and small is powerful for both for the decision-maker and those affected by the decision. Is energy low or are your people lacking passion? Having team members who are moving along the same path and believe in the journey means an entire community of support that provides endless fuel. Not only do challenges become easier, they truly become opportunities that aid in the journey.

You Become Way Less Important

With a culture built around a shared WHY, everyone is clear on not only the larger, more long-term vision, but they also become empowered to determine and create next steps. It may be an unexpected emergency drill that happens when you aren’t in the building and, surprisingly, things go off without a hitch. Or maybe it’s when you’re interviewing new teaching candidates and the entire interview committee is collectively making the same determination while giving aligned and specific feedback. Or maybe a team member sees an opportunity, shares their plan, gets others involved, and all of a sudden an organic, teacher-led event that will impact hundreds of students is happening without you so much as sending a calendar invite. Fewer and fewer stamps of approval are needed and all of sudden, not only are small, procedural things occurring without you, the leader, but powerful progress is being fueled by others.


Having a shared WHY, a community built around a clear and powerful purpose is what I call our school’s path to greatness. It is never going to be a destination, we never “get there,” but we move towards it and along our path. What are some benefits, however unexpected, you’ve seen when a vision is owned and amplified by everyone? What would you add to this list?

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