Can you explain why some achieve things that defy all expectations, while others drown in mediocrity? Why is Apple so successful? They have access to the same talent, the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media, as everyone else. Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day, trying to inspire action. There has to something else at play here…
Simon Sinek has discovered a pattern in the way these great leaders think, act and communicate their ideas to the world. And it’s the exact opposite of how everyone else does it.
Why? How? What? – All great leaders communicate their ideas in that order. Here is an example of how most electronics companies communicate with the world:
Not that inspiring, because the ordering is wrong. First, they explain what they do, then how they do it and then why they’re doing it. Here, on the other hand, is Apple’s approach.
Completely different, right? You’re ready to buy a computer from this blog and all we did was change the order. People don’t buy what you do. They buy WHY you do it.
Best part is – this isn’t even an opinion. This is biology. Not psychology – biology. The human brain is broken into three major components. Our newest brain, our Homo Sapiens brain, our neocortex, corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all our rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains, and our limbic brains are responsible for all our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behaviour, all decision-making, all action and it has no capacity for language.
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 action. When we can communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behaviour, and then we allow people to rationalise it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from. And this is why Martin Luther King was able to gather 250,000 people on the mall in Washington.
He wasn’t the only great orator, he wasn’t the only one suffering. He didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around telling people what he believed. And people who believed what he believed took up his cause, and they made it their own, and they told more people. Everyone followed, not for him, but for themselves. He gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech.
There are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us into action. Whether they’re individuals or organisations, we follow those who lead, not because we must, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with “why” that have the ability to inspire those around them.
If you enjoyed this Leadership Guidebook entry, check out the others!
Leadership Guidebook: The Importance of Safety
Leadership Guidebook: Managing for Collective Innovation
Leadership Guidebook: Encouraging Women to Lead