Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

A couple of months ago I finished reading the book “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek. Simon’s presentation at TED in 2009 was viewed more than 41 million times. He was invited to consult on Leadership for Microsoft and the United Nations.

SWW-Cover-High-Res

I would like to share with you a few observations and thoughts after reading the book.

Manipulation vs Inspiration

Both manipulation and inspiration are methods of making someone take action. Manipulation creates short term result. For example, if a company decides to use manipulation in their sales and marketing approach, like a price reduction, the result will be a temporary increase in sales but it will not build brand loyalty. Try to remember last time when the reduced price of a product made you become loyal to a brand.

On the opposite site of manipulation is the inspiration. Brands that inspire have a loyal group of followers who will always buy a product of said brand. This happens as the followers associate themselves with the values that represent a specific brand.

When it comes to leaders in organizations and companies, those who inspire will benefit from loyal and hard-working employees. So how does one inspire?

The Golden Circle

Simon explains that inspirational leaders and organizations all act and communicate in the same way. He calls that pattern of communication, The Golden Circle.

Golden-Circle

What it means is that communication happens from the inside out, starting with answering the “Why?” question first. Why leaders do what they do and why organizations make what they make. An answer to this simple question communicates the reason for actions, it demonstrates what someone believes in.

People get inspired by others who believe in the same things.

Biological reaction to Why?

As it turns out, humans have a very strong need to feel that they belong. It is one of the most powerful feelings, feeling based on gut. We feel that we would like to belong to a group that shares the same believes as we do as. The feeling of belonging makes us feel safe. We are drawn to organizations and leaders that are good at explaining what they believe in.

The part of the brain responsible for emotions and feelings is called a Limbic Brain. That is not the same part of the brain that is responsible for language. That is why the gut feeling, the feeling of “Just right” is hard to dress in words and explain.

Great organizations are built on the foundations of The Golden Circle and look like a Cone.

GoldenCircle

  • The Why? element of the cone includes the leader who sets the vision.
  • Larger, the How? element of the cone contains the next level of senior executives, inspired by Leader, people who know how to bring the vision to life
  • Finally, the largest part of the organization are the people who bring the vision to life by building the What?

Summary

The book itself is a great, thought-provoking read that I would recommend for anyone. It does explain how and why people are drawn to certain organizations and leaders.

Inspirational organizations and leaders know the answer to the question “why?” and they clearly communicate their beliefs through their actions. Inspiration creates the long-lasting effect of loyal followers or employees.

If you find yourself not having enough time to read the book, have a look at Simon’s TED presentation. It focuses on the core ideas of the book.

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