Discovering Cintra’s ‘why’ was a vital initial step for new Global ESG Director Brooke Akins in shaping the company’s ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) approach.
What makes some companies more successful at growing and sustaining their brands than others?
In his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, the British-American author, researcher, and motivational speaker Simon Sinek suggested that successful brands start with good leadership.
Good leadership, Sinek finds, engages its employees AND its stakeholders in a way that is rooted in the company’s purpose. And that’s important because as many can attest, we are often not motivated by what a company does, but rather, we are motivated by the company’s purpose, or as Sinek calls it, a company’s ‘why.’
From there, Sinek explains a concept he dubbed the “Golden Circle.” As you can imagine the circle’s core is its ‘why’ or purpose. Surrounding the core is ‘how’ the business sets out to fulfil or deliver that purpose. Finally, a company’s ‘what,’ the outer band of the circle, reflects what the company delivers – the product or service they offer. As any company leader can attest, you need to be effective in communicating your company’s product offering and differentiators to all stakeholders, but exceptional leaders start at the core to communicate a company’s purpose for existing, aligning that purpose with the vast network of stakeholders it takes for a company to be successful.
Sinek’s Start with Why philosophy – which I had first encountered in grad school – resonated for me. I’ve seen and personally experienced the shift in purpose-driven consumerism. According to an IBM Institute for Business Value article, purpose-driven consumers, who choose products and brands based on how well they align with their values, now represent the largest segment (44%) of consumers. 1
Businesses often fall short here by focusing on ‘what’ they do, the products or services they offer. But in a very competitive marketplace, there can be very little to differentiate between companies, let alone their products. For example, Cintra develops and operates purposeful infrastructure. That’s what we do. We can all agree on that. But pinpointing why we exist is an altogether more challenging question – one I wanted to dig into deeper.
Our transformative, transportive purpose
The roadways we develop and operate provide a means of effective and efficient transportation. These roadways are necessary for many to effectively get to the places they need to daily, ranging from work, school, running errands, or visiting friends and family.
Communities with efficient roadway infrastructure can positively impact a person’s quality of life and provide access to desire employment options. Ultimately, economic prosperity can flourish in these communities.
Our company plays an important role in this ecosystem, helping our cities to grow and thrive, connecting communities, and enabling people to lead the lives they want to lead.
As Cintra embarks on its ESG journey, we will start with our ‘why.’ I’m confident it will help us deliver our strategy and reflect the purpose we all seek…to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.