What is your ‘WHY’? How Great Leaders Inspire Action

whats your why simon sinek

Recently at Leaders in Heels we got together for ‘Strategy Day’. It was a day to assess where we have been, where we are now and whether or not the magazine is headed in the right direction for us and for you. Our facilitator, Ozlem Beldan from the Spirit of Womankind kicked things off with an activity based on the key points from Simon Sinek’s famous 2009 TED Talk: ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’. We hope that by sharing the exercise and our results you will also be inspired by Sinek to challenge your everyday activities!

Sinek Who?

Before we jump into the activity we should introduce the man himself: Simon Sinek. The New York based ethnographer, (now speaker, writer, blogger and philanthropist and more), spent years studying the behaviour of leaders and discovered a common pattern that separated the average from the great. He realised that great leaders inspire action by promoting WHY they do something, not by selling WHAT they do. So he developed a simple diagram to explain this and called it ‘The Golden Circle’ – cue activity.

The Activity – The Golden Circle & the Golden Question: “Why do you do what you do?”
why how what golden circle Simon Sinek

” Most people can easily tell you WHAT it is that they do and HOW they do it, but struggle to understand and articulate WHY they are spending each and every day working on something

As per the picture the Golden Circle is made up of 3 rungs of seemingly simple questions to ask of yourself and your business:

  1. WHY do you do it? – The reason for existing.
  2. HOW do you do it? – Your USP or production methods.
  3. WHAT do you do? – The products sold or tasks you engage in.

What is your ‘WHY’

Sinek explains that most people can easily tell you WHAT it is that they do and HOW they do it, but struggle to understand and articulate WHY they are spending each and every day working on something. But as he repeats over and over to emphasise that the WHY is the most important question: “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!”. He stresses that leaders cannot expect to attract motivated staff members and businesses cannot expect loyal customers if they themselves are unsure of their purpose. This also applies on an individual level and to any aspect of life, as if you are unclear on why you are doing something, chances are it will soon become a chore and you will look for a way out.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!

You can watch full Ted Talk below:

‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’

Our Results

We looked at this Golden Circle with regards to our roles at Leaders in Heels. Collectively we decided that the WHY behind this magazine is to empower, educate and inspire women to chase their dreams as well as to promote gender equality in the home, in the workplace and, ultimately, in society.

HOW we do this is by recruiting passionate women to be regular and guest contributors, connecting with like-minded organisations and entrepreneurs, and speaking up about contemporary issues facing women.

WHAT we provide is an online magazine that features articles on business, career development, inspirational women, gender equality and work-life balance. We also run networking events and foster an online community of women in business.

We also considered our individual motivations for working for the magazine, using the same three questions. Our Founder and Publisher, Kasia, explained that she was raised in Poland by her mother after her father passed away when she was just 13. Luckily her mother was a strong and confident woman and who taught Kasia that “a man is not a plan” and that she should speak up and ask for what she wanted. But after moving to Australia in 2008 she realised that this was not common behaviour and that her colleagues were continuously being overlooked for promotions due to unconscious bias, stereotypes, and worst of all, because they didn’t put their hands up. She says “I created Leaders in Heels because I wanted to dispel the limitations women put on themselves. My aim is to empower women to reach for the top and educate them on how to take control of their lives, finances and careers.”

Similarly, Yolanda, our Social Media and Community Manager, says that she is passionate about changing the ideas women have about themselves. She loves the happiness, inspiration and motivation that the site provides readers and devotes her time to making sure as many women as possible feel this.

Lifestyle Editor, Erica, explains her WHY as “being able to join my love of writing with helping women to be the best they can”, a statement that Leanne, our Chief and Tech Editor, identifies with. She believes that the stories she and her fellow contributors write for Leaders in Heels play an important role in shifting the thinking of what women can do in this world.

I agree with my colleagues and am motivated by my personal philosophy that the work I engage in should serve a greater purpose than just delivering me a pay check. Leaders in Heels is a place where I feel supported to learn and grow and also where I have the power to positively influence other women’s lives.

Now it’s Your Turn

This exercise was invaluable for us at Leaders in Heels, both as a team and individually, as it forced us to reassess our whole purpose for being. We have come out on the same page with a clear understanding of WHY we do what we do. I have personally also applied this to other aspects of my life, particularly when weighing up a decision, and it has helped me to focus simply on whether or not it is relevant to my goals at this point in time.

We couldn’t recommend this activity any higher, and just want to say “Thank you Simon!”

We’d love to hear how you go with the exercise, and ultimately WHY you do what you do! Tell us in the comments below to keep the inspiration rolling. And don’t forget to ask your friends the Golden Question!

Good Luck!

For more on Sinek:

  • Watch his TED Talks
  • Visit his Website (If you get stuck some courses are available to help you discover your WHY)
  • Check out Ozlem Beldan Spirit of womankind website to arrange a strategy day for your team