Made famous by one of the most viewed TED talks of all time, Simon Sinek has become one of the top names in leadership and motivation. “Start with why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action” looks at how certain individuals and organisations are not only able to innovate, inspire and influence better than others, but capable of sustaining and repeating their successes.
The book is centred around a simple framework called the ‘Golden Circle’ which consists of three parts: Why, How and What. While all organisations know ‘what’ they do and ‘how’ they do it, very few know ‘why’. The clarity of a ‘why’ has allowed the likes of Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King to build unparalleled loyalty and inspire millions of people around the globe. Simon discusses the importance of having a clear ‘why’ and how “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Through numerous examples including household names such as Apple, Walmart and Harley Davidson, the book shows how a clear definition of the ‘why’ has been instrumental to their success.
What I liked about the book was the simplicity of the Golden Circle and how it promotes a purpose and vision driven approach to leadership. We often get caught in the details of what we want to do but this book provides a perspective of taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. It also helps you reflect on your own behaviours and how we are all influenced differently by individuals and organisations.
My one criticism would be that the book does get very repetitive. This is partially due to the limited number of examples (which some could argue have been cherry-picked to meet the authors narrative), but more so because certain phrases and concepts are repeatedly mentioned without providing any additional value. The book is over 200 pages but could easily be condensed by over half without impacting the quality.
Overall, I think the book was a good read. However, for most people, I feel the TED talk would provide enough detail. The book would be a good read for those who would like to better understand some of the thinking behind the principles as well as seeing more examples where the Golden Circle has been applied. The concepts apply to both personal and organisational leadership which makes this book practical for all audiences.
The TED talk can be found here:
7 / 10
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