Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

In this TED Talk, Sinek explains the “world’s simplest idea:” The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is made up of three bullseye layers: the what, the how, and the why, from outer to inner. When it comes to leadership or trust, most people start with “what,” or what services or plans they might have. Those who have the “how” figured out might explain how they’re different from their competition or why their product is special. The “why” tends to go unsaid, even though it’s the most important part of buy-in. “Why” doesn’t come from building profits—it comes from a vision of the world that is unique to your business or leader.

Toward the end of Sinek’s presentation, he seems to speak directly to project managers. He applies The Golden Circle’s model to leadership. Using Martin Luther King Jr. as an example, he shows that people didn’t show up at Washington for a five-step process to establish racial equality or even to see MLK himself. They showed up because they were motivated by his vision—they did it for themselves, regardless of race. It was “I Have a Dream” and not “I Have a Plan,” after all. Project managers can apply these motivational strategies to inspire their teams to want to do the work and to follow their managers’ leadership.