How Great Leaders Inspire Action: Simon Sinek's Golden Circle

How great leaders inspire action is the difference between success and failure. Without great leadership, we devalue creativity and innovation, ultimately losing competitive advantage or worse. Great leadership is more important than ever.

This article explores how great leaders apply Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model to create a lasting impact. The concept encourages leaders to harness their “why,” lead by example, and promote innovation and growth. By incorporating these principles into your leadership style, you can foster diverse, innovative, and cohesive teams that exceed their goals.

The power of transformative leadership

A confident young business leader speaks to a table of her colleagues

How great leaders inspire action is what sets leading companies apart from their competitors

How do great leaders inspire us to take action?

Great leaders can inspire others to act and achieve their goals. They do this by:

  • Harnessing the power of “why”: Understanding and communicating the purpose behind their decisions and actions helps to motivate their team.
  • Leading by example: Demonstrating integrity, self-awareness, and empathy for their actions, setting a standard for their team to follow.
  • Encouraging innovation and growth: Challenging the status quo and fostering a culture that embraces new ideas, continuous improvement, and learning from failure.

The power of “why”

The “why” represents the purpose that drives a leader or an organization. It is their reason for existence.

The “why” creates a unified sense of purpose among team members. When leaders clearly articulate their “why,” they engage their teams, fostering a solid commitment to the organization’s vision.

The “why” allows leaders also to differentiate their organizations from competitors, building a loyal following of stakeholders who share their values. This approach creates success by encouraging trust, collaboration, and transformation.

Leading by example

Leading by example sets the tone for the entire organization. Integrity is the foundation of good leadership, which involves honesty and reliability. Leaders with integrity act by their words. They “walk their talk.”

Self-awareness means monitoring one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and motives and how they affect leadership. Self-aware leaders continuously assess ways to develop a supportive workplace by listening to everyone’s feedback.

Empathy is a vital leadership skill that allows leaders to understand their team members' needs and feelings. Empathetic leaders display a genuine concern for their team members, establishing meaningful relationships.

Encouraging innovation and growth

Encouraging innovation and growth is also how great leaders inspire their teams. By challenging the status quo and promoting an innovative culture, leaders drive their organizations to adapt to an ever-changing business landscape.

Strategies for challenging the status quo as a leader

Great leaders urge team members to question existing ideas, processes, and assumptions and seek growth opportunities. This approach allows leaders and organizations to evolve and adapt, ensuring they remain relevant. This culture also empowers team members to think creatively, take risks, and collaborate effectively, leading to better decision-making.

What is the Golden Circle theory?

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle theory inspires action and drives leadership success. The Golden Circle comprises three components: Why, How, and What. By starting with the “why” and understanding the purpose behind their actions, leaders inspire their teams and create a strong foundation for success. The “why” taps into the part of the listener’s brain that influences behavior, making it a powerful tool for inspiring and motivating others.

How to apply the Golden Circle model

It is important to remember that the “why” is the most crucial element of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. Here are some ways you can apply the Golden Circle theory in leadership:

  • Define “why”: Clearly articulate the shared vision for future success.
  • Communicate “why”: Share your “why” with your stakeholders. Your “why” should be the foundation of your actions and decisions.
  • Align “how” and “what” with “why”: Ensure your processes (how) and products or services (what) align with your “why” for consistency and authenticity.
  • Foster a culture of innovation: Challenge the status quo, question existing ideas and processes, and constantly seek improvement.
  • Lead by example: Demonstrate integrity, self-awareness, and empathy in your actions.

An example of successful applications of the Golden Circle

Apple is an example of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle in action. Apple’s success can be attributed to its clear understanding of its “why,” which is to challenge the status quo and think differently.

Apple’s “why” focuses on believing in innovation and thinking differently. This belief drives every action, setting it apart from its competitors. It aligns its “how” by creating beautifully designed and user-friendly products. Its “what” represents the products and services Apple offers, resulting from its “why.”

What is the TED Talk about how great leaders inspire action?

Readers are leaders, but so are TED Talkers, podcasters, and YouTubers. To learn how great leaders inspire action, Simon Sinek’s infamous Golden Circle TED Talk is a must-watch. Sinek succinctly breaks down his Golden Circle theory with world-class examples and anecdotes. He reminds us that those who lead inspire.


Great leaders are confident, connected, committed, and courageous. Harness the power of “why,” lead by example, and encourage innovation and growth. Reflect on your leadership style and incorporate these principles to inspire action and create a more inclusive and innovative environment for your team.

Meridian University’s MBA in Creative Enterprise challenges leadership norms. This highly relevant program offers students practice in concepts such as the Golden Circle. Contact us to speak with an Admissions Advisor or apply today.


  1. Sinek, S. (n.d.). How great leaders inspire action. TED. Retrieved July 21, 2023, from https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en
  2. Goffee, R., & Jones, G. (2000, September 1). Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved July 21, 2023, from https://hbr.org/2000/09/why-should-anyone-be-led-by-you
  3. Bregman, P. (2018, July 13). Great Leaders Are Confident, Connected, Committed, and Courageous. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved July 21, 2023, from https://hbr.org/2018/07/great-leaders-are-confident-connected-committed-and-courageous

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