A colleague recently sent me a link to a TED talk by Simon Sinek named “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” In less than 20 minutes, Simon succinctly conveys how great leaders inspire those around them and how companies’ departments can do the same.
In a nutshell, inspirational leaders all start with why.
I’ve crafted a summary of his presentation below, but if you have 18 minutes, I encourage you to listen, as Simon is a great storyteller and teacher.
The Golden Circle
According to Simon, all leaders think and act the same way. To illustrate this, he created a chart dubbed the Golden Circle.
There are three layers to this circle, with the outermost ring labeled “what.” “What” refers to what companies do. This is the simplest ring. Everyone knows what products or services their companies offer. Apple makes computers. McDonald’s serves food.
The inner ring is labeled “how.” This is your unique selling proposition—how your company is different than the others, what sets you apart. Some companies can identify how they are better than the competition; some can’t. Apple’s computers are beautifully designed, simple, and user friendly.
The innermost part of the Golden Circle is the heart of inspiration and is labeled “why.” Even fewer companies can answer these questions:
- Why do we exist?
- Why should anyone care that we exist?
To put all of this in context, here is why Apple’s marketing works.
If the company wanted to be average, it would start with “what” in the Golden Circle and work its way inward. The marketing message would look something like this:
“We sell computers that are better because they’re beautifully designed, user friendly, and simple. Want to buy one?”
Instead, Apple leads its marketing campaigns with “why” and works its way out of the Golden Circle:
“We believe in thinking differently and challenging the status quo, so we created computers that are beautifully designed, simple, and user friendly. They just happen to be great computers. Want to buy one?”
After hearing the lastpitch, you want to buy a new computer if you value thinking differently. Simon’s point: All great leaders start with why and work from there to inspire action.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Simon repeats this line continuously throughout his presentation. If there’s one thing you take away from the presentation, it’s that line.
Passion is contagious. It’s contagious for yourand it’s contagious for clients.
The goal for your business is to find other that believe what you do. You’ll get better employees and better clients if you can.