The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek

Why are some leaders more influential, inspiring, and innovative than others? Why do some organizations command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Understand more about the Golden Circle.

Simon Sinek maybe has one of the most popular TED talks of all time. 

The Golden Circle theory explains how leaders can inspire cooperation, trust, and change in a business based on his research into how the most successful organizations think, act and communicate if they start with why.

The Golden Circle can be used as a guide to vastly improve leadership, corporate culture, hiring, product development, sales, and marketing. It explains loyalty and how to create enough momentum to turn an idea into a social movement.

The neuroscience behind the Golden Circle theory is that humans respond best when messages communicate with those parts of their brain that control emotions, behaviour, and decision-making. Something that Sinek explains even more in the book Start With Why.

Here it goes, an important lesson from the TED talk:

“… Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process, or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do.

And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist?

Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

Well, as a result, the way we think, the way we act, and the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.

Let me give you an example. I use Apple because they’re easy to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Want to buy one?” “Meh.” And that’s how most of us communicate. That’s how most marketing is done, that’s how most sales are done, and that’s how most of us communicate interpersonally.

We say what we do, we say how we’re different or how we’re better, and we expect some sort of behaviour, a purchase, a vote, something like that. Here’s our new law firm: We have the best lawyers with the biggest clients, we always perform for our clients who do business with us. Here’s our new car: It gets great gas mileage, it has leather seats, buy our car. But it’s uninspiring.

Here’s how Apple actually communicates. “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” Totally different right?

You’re ready to buy a computer from me. All I did was reverse the order of the information. What it proves to us is that people don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it...”

Golden Circle for What?

Sinek in the Golden Circle uses Apple as an example during his Ted talk, demonstrating their Golden Circle as such:

Why: in everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

How: the way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly.

What: We just happen to make great computers.

In conclusion, Simon Sinek’s “The Golden Circle” provides a powerful framework for understanding the motivation and behaviour of individuals and organizations. 

By shifting the focus from “what” a company does to “why” it does it, Sinek’s model helps leaders to inspire and connect with their teams, customers, and stakeholders on a deeper level. 

So, start with the why, and watch as the how and what falls into place.

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