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I have shared Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk,
with many leaders over recent
years. In most cases it has had a profound impact on the
way many of them think about their role as leaders and
what they pay attention to when leading teams. The talk,
which has now had 17.2 million views, focuses on how
some leaders and organisations connect people, employ-
ees and clients in a different way to others. By codifying
this he discovered the “Golden Circle”:
Do you have a
standing of
you do what
you do?
What is your
team’s purpose
and why does
your team ex-
How will your
team add value and contribute to society as a whole (not
just to shareholder value)?
How will you go about doing what you do?
How do you use the company values as a guide to deci-
sion making?
How do you want to be remembered as a team and what
principles and values does that imply for you?
What are the products and services that reflect your
How can you use this focus to connect your people to
what you expect of them each day and engage them in
the organisation and its vision?
When you work in this order, why, how and then what
you will have a significant impact on the way that the
team members connect with each other and with you as
a leader.
In the video mentioned above, Simon Sinek specifically
notes that organisations like Apple understand and artic-
ulate their “why” in a meaningful way. As a result, they
have a deeper and more profound connection with em-
ployees and clients than those organisations who start
with and focus on the “what” (the products and services
they deliver, the USP, KPI’s and some measure of profita-
While Simon Sinek focuses on organisations in the video,
we can also think about the golden circle within a team
context. I am fortunate enough to work with teams from
many different cultures in different parts of the world,
and, almost without exception, when we first start work-
ing together the teams’ focus is on
they do rather
they do it. Of course the “what” cannot be ig-
nored. Output and results are how most teams are meas-
ured, an indication to the larger organisation of a team’s
success. However, more and more I notice that teams
and team leaders are becoming increasingly dis-engaged
when there is a strong focus on the “what” especially
when it overshadows the “why” (the purpose
of the team). Sinek himself describes pur-
pose in this way; “why do you get out of bed
in the morning and why should anybody
So, where do you spend your time and ener-
gy? Is it on driving at the “what”,
the KPI’s
the P&L, the team’s output? If so, what
changes could you make to your approach so
that you also use your team’s energy to cre-
ate a “why” and the “how
that connects and engages
them in a culture that routinely delivers outstanding
results? Because, here’s the good news, more often than
not, when you get the “why” and the “how
right the re-
sults just come naturally!
Focussing on the “Why”
Our Favourite Videos and Articles
John Frost
By John Frost
Managing Director of Values Based Leadership
When you work in this order, why,
how and then what
you will have a
significant impact on the way that
the teammembers connect with
each other and with you as a leader.”