What is it about the leaders of truly innovative companies of our time, that is different to everyday, ordinary leaders? What attributes do they have that makes them stand apart?
This is the question Simon Sinek pondered and explored in his TED talk. His “discovery” on the subject, he said, profoundly changed his view and thoughts on how the world worked and ow he operates in the world. He discovered a “pattern”; “As it turns out, all the great inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, they all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it, and it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the golden circle”.
All businesses operate with a purpose – a clear outcome. But very few, Sinek argues, know why they do what they do. Most operate from the outside in, not from the inside out.“ And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?”. Inspired leaders, on the other hand, regardless of their size and regardless of their industry; all think, act and communicate from the inside out.
This is a fundamental concept in inspiring people. We all need to feel as if we belong to something bigger than ourselves. We all feel a LOT more engaged and motivated if we feel like we are working for a purpose. That needs to come first and foremost in order to feel inspired. There have been many studies on how effective meaning is to us, in the work we do. Without meaning, no matter how much we get paid, the work we do feels unfulfilling, meaningless. And we become disengaged.
Sinek goes on to explain how his concept of the golden circle approach is actually backed by science. “If you look at a cross-section of the human brain, from the top down, the human brain is actually broken into three major components that correlate perfectly with the golden circle. Our newest brain, our Homo sapien brain, our neocortex, corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains, and our limbic brains are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behaviour, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language”.
So, when leaders communicate from the outside in, it’s not effective at driving behaviour because you are talking about the facts and the figures and the features and the benefits. But communicating from the inside out (purpose first, facts later) you communicate to the part of the brain that controls behaviour, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do.
How to lead from the inside out
Inspiring leaders are fuelled by passion and an unwavering belief in the “why” a company does what it does. And they communicate it clearly and often to their team; it becomes part of the fabric of everything the business does. That positive energy and passion and belief is contagious and becomes the driving force of the company. When others understand the mission and have a clear vison and purpose, they are on board and motivated. Think of Richard Branson, he very clearly, and relentlessly, communicates to his team what Virgin is all about. People who work for the brand are passionate about it too, because they feel they are part of something bigger than themselves.
In order to inspire others, you need to connect them to a sense of purpose often. Telling stories is a great way to do this, reminding people of how the work they do every day is working towards a much bigger sum of all parts.
“Inspire” translates to “in spirit.” Inspiration comes from within. Inspirational leaders ignite a spark within their employees which pushes them through their work with a stronger force. This spark and connection to purpose is the thing that keeps them motivated to work. They don’t require motivation to act because they’ve been inspired.
How do you inspire your team? Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops in 2023? Please get in touch today . I’d love to help!