Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By Pforzheim University at June 1st, 2023

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Book review by Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kölmel

"Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek is a captivating book that explores the power of purpose-driven leadership. Drawing from real-world examples and case studies, Sinek explains how great leaders inspire and motivate others by starting with why—the underlying reason that drives their actions and decisions. This article provides a comprehensive summary of the key takeaways from "Start with Why" and offers valuable insights for future student entrepreneurs who aspire to lead with purpose and inspire those around them.



The Golden Circle:

Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle, consisting of three concentric circles: Why, How, and What. While most organizations and leaders focus on the What (products, services, features), truly inspiring leaders start with the Why—their purpose, cause, or belief. By clearly articulating their Why, student entrepreneurs can connect with the emotions and values of their team members and customers, creating a sense of loyalty, trust, and engagement.


The Power of Why:

Sinek emphasizes that people don't just buy what you do; they buy why you do it. By communicating a clear and compelling Why, student entrepreneurs can attract like-minded individuals who align with their vision and values. This leads to passionate and committed teams who are willing to go above and beyond to achieve the organization's goals. Additionally, a strong Why also resonates with customers, who are more likely to connect with and support a brand that stands for something meaningful.


The Law of Diffusion of Innovation:

Sinek introduces the Law of Diffusion of Innovation, which explains how ideas and movements spread. He highlights the importance of targeting the "early adopters" who are drawn to the purpose and vision behind an innovation. Student entrepreneurs should focus on building a core group of loyal supporters who believe in their Why, as these individuals will serve as influential advocates and help spread the message to the masses.


The Role of Leadership:

Effective leadership is crucial in inspiring and mobilizing teams. Sinek emphasizes the importance of leaders embodying and exemplifying the organization's Why. By leading by example and consistently demonstrating their commitment to the purpose, student entrepreneurs can inspire others to act and achieve extraordinary results. Leadership is not about authority or power; it's about serving others and creating an environment where everyone feels valued and motivated.


Guideline for students:

  • Define Your Why:

Student entrepreneurs should take the time to reflect and define their personal and organizational Why. What is the deeper purpose or belief that drives their entrepreneurial journey? Clarifying the Why provides a clear direction and serves as a guiding light for decision-making and actions. It also enables future student entrepreneurs to attract individuals who align with their purpose, creating a strong foundation for their venture.

  • Communicate Your Why:

Effectively communicating the Why is essential for inspiring and mobilizing others. Student entrepreneurs should craft a compelling narrative that clearly articulates their purpose, vision, and values. This narrative should resonate emotionally with team members, customers, and stakeholders, creating a sense of connection and inspiring action.

  • Lead with Purpose:

Leadership that is grounded in purpose is transformative. Student entrepreneurs should lead by example, consistently embodying their Why and demonstrating their commitment to the organization's vision. This includes making decisions that align with the purpose, empowering team members, and fostering a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation.

  • Nurture a Culture of Why:

To create a lasting impact, student entrepreneurs should cultivate a culture that embraces and celebrates the Why. This involves hiring individuals who share the same values and purpose, providing ongoing support and development opportunities, and recognizing and rewarding behaviors that align with the organization's Why. When the entire team is united by a common purpose, they become unstoppable.