We have been watching the well-known TED Talk by Simon Sinek titled “How great leaders inspire action”, a video which has had over 46 million views at the time of writing and is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time.
In this TED Talk, Simon talks about what it really takes to make a great leader and what qualities the greatest leaders and companies all have in common. He discusses the power of asking “WHY” and how knowing the answer to that question is what makes a truly great leader and ultimately, makes us a success.
The Golden Circle – Starting with Why
Simon talks about The Golden Circle, which he demonstrates in the video like so. Most organisations will focus on the outside first, looking at what they do or sell, rather than why they do what they do.
WHAT – Most organisations know this one. This is WHAT you do, whether its selling computers, cutting hair, gas supply or something else.
HOW – Many organisations know this one. This is HOW they do what they do – what makes you different? How does your product add value? What’s so great about it?
WHY – The question very few organisations truly know. WHY do we do what we do? What do we believe? What gets us get of bed in the morning?
Simon talks about how successful leaders and companies have something in common; they act from the inside first and work their way out – they focus on what they believe – the WHY!
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Simon uses this sentence over and over again in his TED Talk and that’s because this is the important part. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Isn’t this the essence of a truly great marketing campaign? Of remarkable customer experience? And of successful leadership?
He uses a classic example from history to demonstrate this. How did Martin Luther King get 250,000 people to gather at the right time and place for his famous 1963 speech, without any advertising or promotion of the event?
King wasn’t necessarily unique in his views, his suffering or his plans (the “what”). The reason he was so successful was because he started on the inside-out and he told people what he believed (the “why”). Once he told people what he believed, those who had the same belief joined him and helped him to spread the word. King gave a speech called “I have a dream”, not “I have a plan.”.
The goal isn’t to sell people what you have – it is to sell them what you believe!
How this corresponds to biology
This approach works symbiotically with biology because it talks to our limbic brain – the part of our brain responsible for decision making and emotions, rather than the neocortex which is responsible for language and rational thinking. Communicating from the inside-out communicates directly with our behaviour and taps directly into our emotions, rather targeting our actions and words first.
By simply tapping into just the neocortex, customers can understand and rationalise the message, but it doesn’t necessarily drive behaviour!
Why does it matter to us?
On a daily basis, we work with companies large and small on a vast range of problems and topics. From addressing a performance drop, working on improving customer experience, providing leadership training or improving team morale.
What most of our projects have in common is this. Organisations comes to us looking to address the “what”, and it isn’t until we really get under the skin of the “why” and the “how”, that we can eventually address the “what”. In fact, the “what” element tends to sort itself out once we simply start from the inside-out.
If sales are dropping, customers are dissatisfied or staff morale is low, consider flipping things inside out and revisiting your why – you might be surprised with the profound effect it can have on the bottom line!
Why do you do what you do? What do you believe?
Do your products or services reflect this? Does the way you treat your staff reflect this? Do your staff share your belief? Do your customers experience this? …Do you even tell anyone?
This is your true company starting point, so before you pick up the phone to us, have a think about this.
Why do we want to help? Our mission, or our “why”, is to genuinely enjoy both life and work and to be able to help others to do the same. We work with organisations across multiple sectors to understand their “why” and to get ROI from doing the thing that really gets them out of bed in the morning. Don’t we all wish we could earn a living from doing the thing we love?
You can watch Simon’s TED talk here.