The Golden Circle, popularized by Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why and this TED talk, has become a simple-but-awesome framework for evaluating the relationship between why, how, and what. In my favorite example of his, he points out that Apple’s use of The Golden Circle is

“In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. We do this by making our products beautifully designed and simple to use. We just happen to make great computers. Do you want to buy one?”

As we accelerate into the Connectorship Age, leaders intent on successfully connecting with others should use The Golden Circle to challenge how they view the relationship between people, ideas, and technology.

Relationship is the why

As we market and use social media and evaluate blended learning and consider our product roadmaps and on and on it’s easy to lose sight of relationship.

Relationship is about people. Duh.

Ideas only have whys when shared in the context of people (even if it’s just you figuring out life, philosophy, or…). Technology is only useful considered in the context of people.

Ideas are the what

Ideas are the currency of professional relationships (we’re not talking about pheromones and your future mate here).

Relationships may start by talking about wine or football, they may evolve into talks of partnerships, they may even devolve into philosophical rants. But conversation doesn’t happen absent of ideas.

Why are people attracted to your interestingness? Why do they buy into your platform or system or products or services?

To be sure, many people buy products transactionally versus relationally. But we’re talking leadership here, and I’m guessing you’re pursuing leadership that’s pervasive or situational or transformational or something other than transactional.

Ideas are what fuel the conversations in relationships.

Technology is (part of) the how

I heard it again this morning at a breakfast event…in one brief conversation the same guy said (slight paraphrase here), “I prefer in-person communication” and “I need to use technology to go viral.” Like the two are different.

Believe me, I’d rather be with my wife than talk on the phone. We all would.

The risk, however, are at least twofold:

One is that we count “in person” as relationship, but then we treat anything else as transactional. It might be, but if you’re going to be a leader, publishing content is simply more noise in a world that’s barreling toward not needing your noise.

The second is that we devolve from being “people mover” leaders to “number mover” leaders. This does not mean we don’t look at numbers, but show me one employee who is engaged by feeling like a number and I’ll eat my underwear for breakfast.

The potential for scale using technology is awesome. Using it isn’t an either/or discussion, it must be a both/and. It’s a tool for conversation.

The bottom line

Connectorship is one response to a world which will increasingly be inattentive, looking for meaning and trust.

If leadership is influence, the answer for most of us in the Connectorship Age will be a return to relationship as central in how we reach, teach, and lead. This doesn’t mean you won’t publish content or use social media or deliver a webcast.

It does mean that if you focus on what or how before you focus on having a dialogue with a team or tribe, you risk just using tools to contribute to the problem instead of being part of the solution.