The Golden Circle for Leadership and Marketing
You might have heard of Simon Sinek, the author of five bestselling books all of which have been frequently talked about and discussed in the business industry. Several years ago, Simon was part of a TED talk series where his budding theory, named the Golden Circle, instantly garnered thousands of views and set him on a path that has led him to become not only a renowned author, but a motivational speaker and business consultant as well. His Golden Circle theory can be applied in different scenarios, but it has been most frequently used within the marketing and leadership sector. His theory has three main components: What, How, and Why. If a company, or even a single individual, can embody all three components within their main course of action, then they are most likely to succeed and achieve their mission. It goes to show why some businesses are capable of inspiring people, while others are not. So, what exactly does he mean by those three elements and how can following this ‘rule of thumb’ guarantee favorable results within the business industry?
Every business knows exactly their ‘what’. It essentially means what does your company do. What products or services does it provide? This is the basis or groundwork of every organization and tends to be quite straightforward – for both the customers and business itself.
The ‘how’ is the middle sector of the Golden Circle and it becomes a little trickier to discern. Not every business out there is able to determine this or capable of making their ‘how’ clear within their channels of communication. This particular sector is what we call, if you’re familiar with business lingo, the USP (unique selling proposition) or differentiated value proposition. It is what sets your organization apart from other competitors, and therefore what makes you unique or different from other similar institutions.
The ‘why’ is the very center of the Golden Circle and very few businesses are able to define this. The ‘why’ is explained as the purpose or beliefs of the company. Why does the business exist? What is it trying to fix or solve? And why should people care? Inspirational leaders, such as Martin Luther King, and business, such as Apple, communicate to their audience by starting with why, then how, and finally what. Most companies in the market do the opposite, which is why they fail to connect with and inspire their customers.
The Golden Circle teaches people to communicate to their audience by starting with ‘why’. By doing so, you connect to the part of the brain (Limbic brain) that drives and influences behavior. If one can tap into that part of the brain, it becomes easier to gain a following of loyal customers who share your same beliefs and goals. Motivational speakers or influential individuals, such as the aspiring leaders that I have previously mentioned, will always communicate from the inside out (following the Golden Circle). The ‘why’ then allows the brain to rationalize with the ‘what’ and ‘how’. This theory is a great way to explain and understand how some individuals or businesses are able to gain a greater level of success than others. As intricate human beings, it is not enough to just state what your intentions are, it is necessary to explain why, and therefore the motif or reasoning behind it. If people can relate to that, relate to what drives your behavior and actions, then you are guaranteed to garner a following of individuals who are loyal to you, or your brand, and support your endeavors. This is exactly what companies like Apple or Toms have done with their customers, they both started by communicating with the WHY.