Inspired Leadership

Reflections on Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action

I am a “quiet leader”. You must be thinking contradiction, how can a leader be quiet? I have taken the concept of a leader and have transformed it to something that represents something beyond the conventional “loud leader” we all know.

I believe a quiet leader is someone who leads by action; one that leads by action first and words second, and at times, strategically, one that does not even require words. I have been inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED Talk called “Inspired Leadership”. He provides information on marketing and managing tactics that go above and beyond the no-holds-barred, profit pushing, dog-eat-dog styles we tend to adopt. Below are his quotes, my notes on his quotes, and his unique approach to leadership and how it can inspire you to become a better leader, whether loud or quiet.

“Think and communicate from the inside out.” Think beyond the numbers, results, profit margins, and measureable outcomes. Instead, think value, reason, depth, and purpose. “People don’t buy what you do but why you do it.” WHY first, WHAT second.

“Your goal is to do business with people that believe in what you believe. If you hire people just because they can do a job, they will work for your money, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, they will work for you and your purpose.”

Without followers, how can we be leaders? As leaders, how do we find our followers? Answer: the Law of diffusion of Innovation. Innovators 2.5% > Opinion Leaders 13.5% > Early Adopters 34% > Late Adopters 34% %> Laggards 34%.

How do you narrow in on your target market? Not just people who want to buy your service, but buy into your belief, purpose, and vision? There will always be 10% of people who “just get it”. You don’t have to work your magic on these people. They are those crazies who arrive 48 hours in advance, camp out, just to purchase the newest Apple products or simply enter a new Apple store.

The goal is to hit the tipping point for market penetration and success, which is the 15-18% on the law of diffusion of innovation scale.  Once this tipping point has been reached, we can claim the largest percentage crowd called the Early Adopters (34%). Answer: Convince the Innovators and Opinion Leaders (CHANGE AGENTS) of your belief!

Gladiator says “Win the crowd, win the war.” Win the crowd, one member at a time. Choose your crowd members strategically: one innovator and opinion leader at a time. Develop the ability to communicate your cause, belief, and vision. Influence with grace, class, and enthusiasm.  Never compromise your confidence. Talk about your product purpose and benefits, not your product specs and sales.  Talk about your WHY’s, not about your WHAT’s.  Then you will attract those who believe in what you believe.

To further Simon Sinek’s philosophy on leadership, Derek Sivers, another TED talker, provides us a different look on leadership.  He says that Leadership is over-glorified: “Aim not to be leader, aim to be a follower and show others how to follow, not how to follow the leader, but how to follow the movement in which the leader himself follows”.

Make the movement about the movement, not you. Nurture your followers as equals. A movement is about participation, sharing, and courage. “Have not the courage to lead, but the courage to follow”. Martin Luther King Junior presented the ‘I have a dream speech’, not ‘I have a plan speech’. He spoke about sharing this dream, having the courage to dream, and participating as a whole in achieving our dreams. He never once dictated how to achieve this dream with a plan of his own. Although King Junior was one of the greatest orators in American history, he was a follower first, a leader second. He followed the likes of Howard Thurmin, Bayard Rustin, and Mahatma Ghandi. He followed the belief of non-violent resistance and civil rights. He embodied these principles. He was a leader who led by action. He was a quiet leader.