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How do great leaders inspire action?

What makes a good leader? It’s that age-old question.

There are plenty of management theorists out there, all offering their advice on the perfect model, but few resonate with business leaders as much as leadership expert and renowned public speaker, Simon Sinek.

To date, Simon Sinek has delivered one of the most watched TED talks, having accumulated in excess of 22 million views…and there’s a reason why it is so popular.

In the talk, Simon offers an extremely simple yet powerful model for strong, inspirational leadership, starting with the idea of a ‘golden circle’ consisting of what you do and how you do it, with the key question ‘why’ at its centre.

Sinek proposes that good leadership comes from thinking and communicating from the inside out – that is, emphasizing why you do what you do. What is your belief, cause or purpose? Why should people care? After all, in Sinek’s words, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

He argues that most companies mistakenly focus on what they do, be that their product or service, and how they differ from their competitors, expecting a purchase as a result when, in reality, there is nothing original about this method.

According to Simon, talking about your beliefs will attract people who believe the same. He gives the example of Apple, who market their values (thinking differently and challenging the status quo) and rationalise these with the ‘how’ and ‘what’ (beautiful designs and brilliant computers).

Essentially, the goal is not to do business with people who need what you have to offer, rather to do it with those people who share your views.

Leaders to look to the future and focus on investing in long-term impact rather than obsessing over short-term clicks, views or sales. Taking the time to find the right staff, driven by the same cause, will result in a more committed workforce, helping you to build a business that will last.

Sinek stresses the importance of looking after your people so that they can look after the business. Leaders should therefore give their staff responsibilities and accountability, show them respect and recognise achievements.

According to Sinek, there is a difference between leaders and those who lead. Leaders have authority but do not motivate us, where as those who lead inspire us – we follow them because we want to, not because we have to. It is this distinction that characterises good leadership and Sinek maintains that it is those managers who start with ‘why’ that can successfully inspire those around them.

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