Imagine a workplace where people don’t just clock in for their nine-to-five. They’re there to rally to the company’s cause and fulfill its vision. Think how different and more effective your team and organization would be if managers and leaders were inspired and had a deeper sense of purpose.
When we issue directives and to-do lists to employees, we’re used to telling them the “whats,” “hows,” and quantifiable targets but we often skip over the “whys.” This is a costly mistake because our motivations, shared beliefs, and commitment is all fueled by urgent and compelling causes.
Yes, we can tell people how to perform tasks and what they need to do but unless we can inspire them with why they need to do it, it will never amount to more than an obligatory task.
Inspiring people with the desire to do things is at the heart of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, a management principle that explains why some leaders have an unusually deeper influence than others.
If you’d like to be an effective leader who doesn’t just compel people to follow but inspires them to do so, take a closer look at the Golden Circle.
This article will provide you with background on what the Golden Circle is, why it’s making waves in management, and how it can turn you into a leader who inspires passion and purpose.
Golden Circle – Simon Sinek Background
Simon Sinek is a British-American author, YouTuber, and motivational speaker who has changed the way leaders view and approach their duties and responsibilities.
With the Golden Circle, Simon Sinek is challenging executives and sales teams to reexamine what makes employees and customers buy into a company’s mission and vision.
The Golden Circle is based on the mindset that how well a person does something is deeply intertwined with a compelling reason to do it. It influences buy-in, dedication, and loyalty.
The Golden Circle thus has deep significance in decision-making, leadership, and sales.
According to Sinek, successful leaders inspire people instead of just issuing orders. They accomplish this by acting, thinking, and communicating in a certain manner. Though leaders may follow it subconsciously, it can be leveraged more strategically and with intention.
Dissecting the Golden Circle: What It Means and How It Works
Through the Golden Circle, Simon Sinek offers invaluable insights on how leaders and organizations can achieve an exceptional degree of influence. The idea is summarized in the phrase “It starts with WHY” and has the potential to powerfully transform company culture.
Sinek believes that every organization, company, employee, and leader knows three things about their business or job, which they communicate to their stakeholders:
- What their products or services are, their functions, advantages, features, etc
- How products or services add value, how they’re different from competitor products and services, and how they’re unique and helpful
- Why the company offers its services or products, the reasons for its goals, and why they’re important to customers and clients
Based on the Golden Circle, Simon Sinek points out that leaders often make the mistake of focusing on the “what” and the “how” of their business, but fail to communicate the “why,” which is the most important aspect.
According to Sinek, communicating why something should be done or why something is important should be the primary message. Profits, targets, and other information are of secondary importance.
This is how a good leader inspires loyalty, drive, passion, and a sense of fulfillment among those he or she wishes to lead.
Why Purpose Counts
The Golden Circle emphasizes that the purpose or the “why” of a company is the most crucial aspect. It must be constantly and clearly communicated to customers and employees.
People may understand what needs to be done but until they understand why something is necessary, they will never be totally on board and loyal to a brand or company.
Marketers and leaders often convey the “what” and “how” before they share the “whys” — if they get around to them at all. This is unwise because the reason for doing something is often what drives people’s motivations.
Let’s take a look at a traditional marketing message for a smartphone:
“Our smartphones are a seamless blend of functionality and style. They have sleek designs with powerful processors that can smoothly handle multitasking. We believe in making phones that can keep up with your fast-paced lifestyle.”
In this message, all three elements are covered:
- What: Our smartphones are a seamless blend of functionality and style.
- How: They have sleek designs with powerful processors that can smoothly handle multitasking.
- Why: We believe in making phones that can keep up with your fast-paced lifestyle.
A marketing message that keeps Sinek’s Golden Circle theory in mind would rearrange the order and make the purpose more important by mentioning it first:
“We believe in making phones that can keep up with your fast-paced lifestyle. Our smartphones have sleek designs with powerful processors that can smoothly handle multitasking. They are a seamless blend of functionality and style.”
Makes a huge difference, right?
Instead of “what,” “how,” and “why,” the Golden Circle reverses the order of the information, making it “why,” “how,” and “what.” This makes the “why” the most important part of the marketing message.
As human beings, we connect with and respond more readily to appeals that are based on behavior, emotions, and decision-making. If a company can effectively sell its “why,” it becomes more attractive than its competitors.
This is why having a clear purpose can help a company succeed.
How To Get Started With the Golden Circle
How can you get started with the Golden Circle, especially if you aren’t used to thinking or communicating in this way?
Start by creating your own visual circle, copying Sinek’s diagram of the “why,” “how,” and “what.” The “why” should be in the innermost circle, followed by “how,” and finally “what” in the outermost circle.
Think of a leadership directive in your company or a product that could benefit from the Golden Circle. Start filling in the “why,” “how,” and “what” areas.
If the concept is totally new to you, you may struggle at first in filling in the “why” but that’s okay. Start with the “what” and “how” if that’s easier for you. Eventually, you’ll be able to fill in the “why” area as well and this technique will become easier with time.
Think of some of your favorite brands. Chances are, you choose to support them not just because they make great products but because you believe in the company behind them.
You might share similar beliefs, admire their commitment to a specific cause, or feel emotionally connected to their values.
These companies have successfully embraced the Golden Circle. Simon Sinek’s idea shows how tapping into people’s deep-seated desires and beliefs can cultivate trust, cooperation, and commitment.
It can have a transformative impact on the way you deal with others, conduct business, and market your products or services.
Which areas do you think the Golden Circle will be useful to you? What kind of change are you most looking forward to? Are there any “whys” that you’re excited to share with others?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
For more groundbreaking ideas like this, see the rest of our blogs on Kala.