• Jonno White

How Great Leaders Inspire Action: A TED Talk by Simon Sinek

Updated: Nov 17

Simon Sinek's famous TED talk about leadership does a great job of showing how to get your point across. He uses the story of Martin Luther King Jr. to explain how great leaders inspire people to take action. They start by explaining why they believe in their cause. People hearing this are more likely to believe in the leader and want to help achieve the goal. Sinek's delivery is motivating and inspirational, which is why his talk has been viewed over 16 million times making it one of the most watched ted talks in history.


Sinek talks about the Wright Brothers inspirational leadership in the early 20th century. This first man flight, this was a tipping point in human invention. The brothers broke the status quo and were early adopters. Dr. King, as mentioned above, is another example of a leader who focused on the higher authority. He was one of the most inspiring leaders who used a position of power to see breakthrough in the civil rights movement. The way Dr. King spoke on live TV, he wasn't the only great orator of the day but his little idea inspired leaders who hadn't taken action pre-civil rights america.


Watch Simon Sinek's TED talk here.

The key idea in Sinek's talk is his 'Golden Circle' concept. Let's unpack it.


The Golden Circle


Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle" is a powerful model that explains how leaders can inspire people to take action. The model has three circles: the innermost circle, "Why?", represents the leader's purpose or goal; the middle circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve this purpose; and finally,the outermost circle,"What?", which represents results or what outcomes these achieved strategies bring about.


Why


The innermost circle of the Golden Circle, "Why?", is the most important. This is where the leader's purpose or goal comes from. Everyone needs a reason to believe in something, and this is what the leader provides. When people understand why the leader is doing what they're doing, they are more likely to want to help achieve the goal. The leader's passion and conviction will inspire others to take action.


Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is a great example of how to articulate a vision. He starts by describing the dream, and then explains why it's important. He makes people feel like they're a part of the dream, and that they have the power to make it a reality. By painting a picture of a better future, he inspires people to take action and fight for justice.


How


The middle circle of the Golden Circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve the purpose. This is where the leader's expertise comes in. When people see that the leader knows what they're doing and has a plan, they will be more likely to trust them and follow their lead. The leader's knowledge and experience give people confidence that they are heading in the right direction.


An example of a leader who uses this strategy well is Elon Musk. He is constantly sharing his plans for the future of Tesla and SpaceX, and he makes it clear that he knows what he's doing. By showing his followers that he has a solid plan, he inspires them to believe in him and his vision.


What


The outermost circle, "What?", represents results or what outcomes these achieved strategies bring about. In order to be a successful leader, it's important to understand what these outcomes are and how they can be measured.


One way to think about this is by using the analogy of a rocket. The purpose of a rocket is to travel to space, and the method or strategy is the fuel that powers it. The result of this strategy is the spacecraft reaching its destination.


As a leader, you need to be clear about your purpose or goal, and then use strategies that will achieve this goal. It's important to track the results of these strategies so you can see if they are effective. By understanding the Golden Circle, leaders can better focus their efforts and create a plan that inspires others to take action.


Sinek explains how a cross-section of the human brain, the homo sapien brain, shows why The Golden Circle is so powerful. The outer layer of the brain and the limbic brains, or another part of the brain, lead us to take action. The clearest thing at the right time isn't always what we do. Human behavior at various times isn't about the right people or the right thing. The only reason some people do the wrong thing is a couple of little spikes in the limbic brain.


This can lead to mass-acceptance of an idea where the highest-quality product loses. A marketing message for an inferior product can beat an amazing discovery in the current day. The limbic system is a simple concept but once you understand it your best work with all kinds of leaders is possible.


Here are some examples of companies that use The Golden Circle concept well:


Apple


Apple is a great example of a company that uses the Golden Circle concept to inspire others to take action. The company's mission is "to change the world one person at a time", and they use the Golden Circle to communicate this mission to their employees and customers. The innermost circle, "Why?", represents Apple's goal or purpose. The middle circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve this goal. And finally, the outermost circle, "What?", which represents the results or what outcomes these strategies bring about. By understanding the Golden Circle, Apple is able to better focus their efforts and create a plan that inspires others to take action.


Starbucks


Starbucks is another company that uses the Golden Circle concept to inspire others to take action. The company's mission is "to inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time". Like Apple, Starbucks uses the Golden Circle to communicate their mission to their employees and customers. The innermost circle, "Why?", represents Starbucks' goal or purpose. The middle circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve this goal. And finally, the outermost circle, "What?", which represents the results or what outcomes these strategies bring about. By understanding the Golden Circle, Starbucks is able to better focus their efforts and create a plan that inspires others to take action.


Disney


Disney is a company that uses the Golden Circle concept to inspire others to take action. The company's mission is "to make people happy", and they use the Golden Circle to communicate this mission to their employees and customers. The innermost circle, "Why?", represents Disney's goal or purpose. The middle circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve this goal. And finally, the outermost circle, "What?", which represents the results or what outcomes these strategies bring about. By understanding the Golden Circle, Disney is able to better focus their efforts and create a plan that inspires others to take action.


Southwest Airlines


Like Apple, Starbucks, and Disney, Southwest Airlines also uses the Golden Circle concept to inspire others to take action. The company's mission is "to democratize the sky", and they use the Golden Circle to communicate this mission to their employees and customers. The innermost circle, "Why?", represents Southwest Airlines' goal or purpose. The middle circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve this goal. And finally, the outermost circle, "What?", which represents the results or what outcomes these strategies bring about. By understanding the Golden Circle, Southwest Airlines is able to better focus their efforts and create a plan that inspires others to take action.


The Pentagon


The Pentagon is another organization that uses the Golden Circle concept to inspire others to take action. The organization's mission is "to protect and defend the United States of America", and they use the Golden Circle to communicate this mission to their employees and customers. The innermost circle, "Why?", represents the Pentagon's goal or purpose. The middle circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve this goal. And finally, the outermost circle, "What?", which represents the results or what outcomes these strategies bring about. By understanding the Golden Circle, the Pentagon is able to better focus their efforts and create a plan that inspires others to take action.


“Users don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” - Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek's TED talk on how leaders can inspire others to take action focuses on his 'Golden Circle' concept. Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle" is a model that can help leaders inspire others to take action. The Golden Circle has three circles: the innermost circle, "Why?", represents the leader's purpose or goal; the middle circle, "How?", represents the methods or strategies used to achieve this purpose; and finally,the outermost circle,"What?", which represents results or what outcomes these achieved strategies bring about.


When people understand why the leader is doing what they're doing, they are more likely to want to help achieve the goal. Leaders need to be clear about their purpose or goal, and then use strategies that will achieve this goal. It's important to track the results of these strategies so they can see if they are effective. By understanding the Golden Circle, leaders can better focus their efforts and create a plan that inspires others to take action.

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