Organizational Leadership News & Views

Advice for leadership students from author Simon Sinek: Great leaders start with ‘why’

  • Alvernia MOL

Students studying for a Masters in Organizational Leadership (MOL) degree can find a wealth of insights from TED talks. Here’s a synopsis of one of the most popular TED talks of all time.

Why do we follow the leaders we do? Do we do it for them, or for ourselves?

According to author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, “leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. … We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves.”

In his TEDx Talk, Sinek explains How Great Leaders Inspire Action and the idea of the “golden circle,” which begins with leaders asking: Why? By asking this question, individuals and organizations can discover their purpose, cause and belief.

Sinek guides audience members through a few famous examples of leadership, including Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright brothers. Behind these great leaders, is belief – “if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

People don’t just want to know the facts about a leader and organization, but they want to feel them. But, biology complicates this because the part of the brain that controls decision-making doesn’t control language, Sinek says. “When we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior.”

However, inspiring leaders think, act and communicate from the inside out. They start with the why and are able to share in a way to attract people who believe what they believe.

Sinek’s talk, which can be viewed below, is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time. He is the author of “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.”

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