Have you seen that viral clip of Simon Sinek talking about millennials? It’s been passed around Facebook like nobody’s business, I’ve been tagged in it twice. But it’s really interesting – give it a watch if you have time.
Simon’s a management theorist, so he knows a lot about leadership and taking control of the situation. In fact, leadership is one thing we all struggle with when climbing the career ladder or starting a business. Nobody is born a leader, it’s something we have to learn. So I wanted to know Simon’s tips from his popular TED talk, on how to be a great leader in any situation.
#1 They know their purpose
Simon started thinking about great leaders and what they have in common and came up with the concept of a golden circle. To go back to the start, he first realized that all the best leaders and game-changers do things in the opposite way to the rest of us. All of us know what we’re doing, but not many of us know why. And those that do, they are the leaders and the successful people.
‘I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?’
#2 If they want to sell, they don’t sell too hard
‘Let me give you an example. I use Apple because they’re easy to understand and everybody gets it. If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” “Meh.” That’s how most of us communicate.’
Simon noticed that we say what we do, how we’re different or better and expect a purchase or a vote from that information alone. He thinks it’s uninspiring, which is why we have to do things differently to get results. Companies like Apple flip what you expect on its head, they don’t sell, sell, sell, and yet they are purchased. This proves that people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. So if you’re starting a company or selling a product, keep that in mind.
#3 They tell people what they believe, not what they should do
Think about Martin Luther King. In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people came to his speech. He didn’t have a PR company, a website, or pretty invitations. His speeches sold themselves because he told people what he believed. “I have a dream,” for example. Not, “America is in a bad state, we need to fix it, here’s why…”
‘How many of them showed up for him? Zero. They showed up for themselves. It’s what they believed about America that got them to travel in a bus for eight hours to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August. It’s what they believed, and it wasn’t about black versus white: 25% of the audience was white.’ Even if you’re managing people and want to inspire them to work hard in your team, tell them what you believe and if they agree with you, they’ll follow.
#4 They Lead because they want to inspire
Simon tells a story about a man named Samuel Pierpont Langley. Nobody’s heard of him, but he wanted to be the first man to fly. He was working on powered flying craft at the same time as the Wright brothers. When they succeeded, he didn’t congratulate them and try to improve upon what they’d done. He quit. Because he wanted to be the first, he wanted to be rich and famous. That’s why nobody has heard of him. That’s why nobody would have followed his dream.
‘Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, 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 or find others who inspire them.’
Watch the full talk below:
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Featured photo: Françoise Hardy, 1964, photographed by Steve Schapiro/Corbis
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