Tag Archives: golden circle

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

Click the arrow in the image box to launch the 18 minute video.

View a graphic synthesis of Simon Sinek’s talk.

Have you ever wondered why we find some leaders and their messages inspiring while others leave us flat?

As a leader do you want to ensure your team members not only understand your vision, but also actively work to make it a reality?

In this TED talk, Simon Sinek explores his concept of the Golden Circle, what he calls “a naturally occurring pattern”, grounded in the biology of human decision making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.

The Golden Circle is similar to a target with three rings.  Starting with the outer ring and leading to the center ring, the sections are labeled as the “What”, “How”, and “Why”.  The most common and comfortable place for leaders to  speak to is the “What”, as in what the organization does.  Many leaders are also comfortable speaking to “How” they do what they do.  Most, however, do not speak to the “Why”.  Sinek suggests that “Why” is the most transformational and powerful place to speak to as it the place of purpose and passion.

Sinek further explains that the Golden Circle corresponds to the biology of the human brain.  The outer layer of the brain, the “What”, is represented in the homo sapien brain – the place of rational thought, analytical data, and language.  The inner circle of the brain, the “Why” and “How”, relates to the limbic portion of the brain where feelings such as trust and loyalty are generated.  It is also the place of decision making, and especially those that come from the gut.

Sinek suggests that when we communicate from the “What”, we are not appealing to the part of the brain where decisions are actually made.  However if we connect effectively via the “Why” (and “How”) of the limbic brain – the place of passion and purpose – others will make a gut decision to follow in the leader’s footsteps.  Continuing to speak to passion and purpose builds trust and develops loyalty and the “What” we do naturally follows to rationalize the behavior.