Leadership expert, and author of “Start with Why”, Simon Sinek, conceptualises the strategy of communicating from the “Why” within a simple, but powerful illustration he calls “The Golden Circle”. The Golden Circle codifies the Why, How and What of communication.
- What you do: everyone knows this
- How you do it: some know this
- Why you do what you do: “very few people or organisations know why they do what they do or why they even exist!”
Sinek claims inspired leaders and organisations all “think, act and communicate” from their purpose – or the inner circle “of why”.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Sinek aptly exemplifies his point through great leadership examples from Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers; all leaders who clearly understood and could articulate their purpose to inspire action.
Sinek sees innovators as those who are clear on what they believe and take action early on. He moves us beyond the marketing strategies of features and benefits to the conceptualisation of why they would want your product or service.
In my current profession as an educational technology leader, I draw on my initial career in business to gain strategies and insights into how to more effectively lead by influence rather than authority. Although not speaking directly to educational leaders, Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” provides a conceptual view of communicating from the why to inspire and motivate with purpose. Although communicating from the “why” isn’t exactly a new idea, Sinek’s illustrations make it crystal clear why this method works.
What does this mean for education?
From a learners perspective, we need to keep learning purposeful and from a conceptual level so we tap into personal motivation and relevancy. Motivation, according to Daniel Pink’s “Drive” tells us that intrinsic motivation is based on purpose. It is this purpose that is tied closely to our beliefs. Pink believes to maintain our “drive” we need three components of mastery, autonomy and purpose. Mastery comes from practice and refinements guided by reflection, autonomy from choice and empowerment and purpose that is tied to intrinsic motivation. To develop life-long, self-directed learners we need to enable learners who can manage, monitor and motivate their own learning.
From a school perspective, leaders need to be clear on their purposes and apply strategies that can be conceptualised and carried out to steer the organisation. This purpose needs to emanate through all parent communication, marketing strategies and policies. The purpose needs to be understood, believed and practiced. The same is true for educational bodies on a grander scale.
In my years in education, I have seen many programs, plans and strategies come and go. True purpose is unshakeable. As individuals, we must tap into something deep inside us that aligns us to the organisations we choose to serve, particularly in education where the motivation for exceptional educators is much more than monetary.
As Sinek says:
“Those who lead inspire us. We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to”.
What motivates you to follow the leaders you are following? What makes your heart sing?