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The golden circle

A powerful model for finding your place in the workforce.
Attractive businesswoman in jeans and shirt, standing by male manager, discussing ideas in brainstorming session, planning, explaining
© Getty Images

A powerful model for finding your place in the workforce.

Simon Sinek developed a powerful concept which he discussed in his TEDTalk “How great leaders inspire action”. It is important to consider this concept as part of your career journey, whether it is seeking a new job or promotion or even through interactions with project clients.

Sinek explains that all great organisations and leaders have one primary element in common: they start and focus first on explaining “Why” their thinking matters. He explains that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Sinek uses Apple as an example, illustrating how they communicate successfully to the market by saying “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”. He claims businesses like Apple are popular and successful because they think differently to everyone else.

Sinek’s theory is based in the field of Biology. Whilst humans communicate from the ‘outside in’, their understanding of the information does not drive their behaviour. However, when humans communicate from the ‘inside out’, they talk directly with the part of the human brain that controls behaviour.

Sinek’s model “The Golden Circle” is broken down into three categories (or circles):

  • What:
    this is the easy one and focuses on what an organisation does in the marketplace. Almost every organisation knows what they do. They know their vision, mission and what products they are selling.
  • How:
    this focuses on how organisations know how they have achieved success for their customers. For example, this can be achieved through analysing spreadsheets, conducting data analytics or surveys.
  • Why:
    the “Why” is something that not many organisations know the answer to. This is the reason why they do what they do. It can’t be just to make a billion dollars a year in revenue. There must be a purpose which dictates everything, which in turn conveys a message to customers or clients.

Let’s shift the lens a little now, as the reason behind this model was to set the direction and purpose for the organisational leaders and to appeal to human biology. However, for our purposes, this model can be used from the position of the employees. This provides us with the direction of why we do we what we do and help to differentiate us in the job market.

If you are a person in the workforce trying to figure out where you fit or how make a transition but don’t know all the answers, this type of thinking focuses on the ‘Why’ this is important moving forward.

Your task

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk first and then, using the interpretation of the “Golden Circle” below, try to position yourself where you are now in your career and if you are happy in this spot as well as where you want to move as a next step. Provide a response in the comments section below following these 3 guiding questions.

image golden circleDiagram is based on Simon Sinek’s model of the “Golden Circle”.© Deakin University.

© Deakin University
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