03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

There Is a Difference Between Direction and Directions

There is a difference between giving directions and giving direction.

Direction is the far-away destination to which you are heading and directions are the route you will take to get to get there.

leaders and managers, we often forget the distinction.  When we want to
tell someone to do something, we give them directions when we should be
giving them direction. Great leaders do not get involved in the details
of what route is taken, they focus on ensuring everyone is clear of the

Once established, a leader needn't obsesses about
the short-term gains or losses, but rather the long-term trend.  If a
submarine commander, for example, says head north, he doesn't focus on
the frequent course corrections, he just wants to feel confident that
his ship is heading due north.  The same is true for any company or

Any leader who spends too much time worrying about
the directions instead of the direction risks destroying any morale,
creativity and commitment they may have gained.  Worse, while looking
down, they will miss what's far ahead.

Directions are instructions given to explain how. Direction is a vision offered to explain why.

Directions are given by teachers, of which there can be many. It is for you to decide which directions suit you best.

Direction is set by a leader, of which there can be only one. It is for you to decide if you want to go on the journey or not.

Direction must always come before directions otherwise how will people know where they are going?

next time someone asks you "what do you want me to do?" Don't answer
their question.  Don't give them directions.  Point and offer them the
direction you want to go in and let them figure out the rest. That's
what all the great leaders do.


For more from Simon Sinek,read an excerpt from his new book, Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Available in bookstores now.


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