As one of today’s best leadership minds, Simon Sinek authored Start With Why to share how great leaders create positive workplace cultures. He’s one of the best because he offers a refreshing insight into leadership, as explained in his book.
In our “why” generation, Sinek argues that CEOs and bosses need to explain the purposes behind assignments.
Start With Why promotes this idea. Sinek suggests that it’s not enough to delegate tasks to the workers while leaders sit at the top to reap all the benefits. Instead, each person can find purpose in what they do and why they’re doing it.
First, I’ll give a brief synopsis of the book, then give my opinions, both positive and negative.
Start With Why begins with the work culture and its relation to brain chemicals. Four brain chemicals called dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and cortisol govern the workplace environment.
For instance, Sinek explains that the best workplace cultures allow employees to feel emotionally safe. This ‘Golden Circle’ is the ideal situation where employees are filled with oxytocin and serotonin, two chemicals responsible for emotional safety. Here’s a video about Sinek’s Golden Circle concept.
Conversely, toxic work environments are filled with dopamine-related goals that create intense competition between peers. Dopamine goals feel great when achieved. But it comes with a cost.
For instance, dopamine-based goals create bitter rivalries that turn employees against each other, and the ‘Golder Circle’ of safety dwindles. In turn, employees at these workplaces have cortisol (the stress chemical) coursing through their brains.
Sinek repeats the phrase, “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Early in Start with Why he referred to big thinkers like Apple Inc. and how they have used their ‘why’ to grow their business.
Sinek’s explanation talks about Apple Inc’s growth and how relaying the ‘why’ behind the company turned into loyal followers.
For example, Sinek mentioned how users of Apple products have the ‘Apple’ logo on their computer facing right-side-up when the laptop is open. Opening the logo toward everyone showed that the user is a free-thinker, an innovator, and a proud owner of an Apple product.
Compare the ‘Apple’ logo to the old Dell laptops where the company inverted their logo to face the user while closed.
Apple’s ‘why’ centers around innovation and creativity. People buy into that. Sinek further elaborates on innovation in this book, where he compares why-centered Apple to other revenue-centered companies like Dell.
Motivated Employees=Great Business
When choosing candidates to hire, companies look for years of experience, top graduates from elite universities, and charismatic personalities. Instead, Sinek argues that it’s better to hire motivated people who’ll create a collaborative culture.
Work culture should be at the forefront when hiring personnel. Moreover, when people work well together, then the business thrives.
To illustrate this point, Sinek gives an excellent example of two stonemasons. You ask one stonemason, “do you like your job?” He replied that the work was difficult in the hot sun and heavy bricks. But, the work paid the bills.
Next, you ask the second stonemason, “do you like your job?” He exclaimed how much he loved his job. He was building a cathedral! Sure, the work was challenging under the hot sun. Carrying heavy bricks was difficult, too. But, he was building a cathedral!
Clearly, the second stonemason had a sense of purpose. Motivation through your ‘why’ was the core of this section.
Start With Why In Your Career
People will perform to the metrics if they do not have a ‘why.’
Famously, Sinek talks about “the Golden Circle,” which is the protection that employees feel when operating under their “why” without repercussion. People who work in sales positions resort to sales tactics because they’re not within a golden circle.
This concept is recurring throughout the book, and he proves the point with several excellent examples. Namely, he compared Wal-Mart, Dell, and Apple and how they used their ‘whys’ (or lack thereof) to reach their customer bases.
Things I Liked
I had a general feeling of relief while reading this book. I felt like I had a start point in motivating myself and helping my teams better. For example, my problem at work has been disinterest in some tasks I do. However, Start With Why bridged that gap for me, and now I know why I’m working on menial tasks. Work isn’t burdensome anymore for me.
I enjoyed Sinek’s friendly tone throughout the book. He has a knack for calming and reassuring his audience with each page. It doesn’t matter if you read or listen to the book; the tone is always the same. I felt like I should keep listening to what he had to say.
It was easy to apply the concepts found in this book to work. Many leadership books talk about when someone is in leadership.
Instead, you can use the ideas here immediately, whether you’re at the bottom or top of an organization. It benefits everyone in the process, and it helps put the working world in perspective.
I appreciated his tie-in with the chemicals in our brains. He talked a lot about dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin as the basis for why we do things. It helped me relate to why we humans work the ways that we do.
The Thing I Didn’t Like
I wish he referred more to start-ups and how their whys motivated them to progress. If anything, it would make the book richer with relevant examples to a wider audience.
Regardless, Apple is still a fantastic example of using its ‘why.’ I understand why Sinek continued with this theme.
Start With Why is one of my favorite books on leadership. It taught me how to find purpose in my work life, which has dramatically enhanced my ability to perform at work. Again, no matter where you are in your organization, the ideas and concepts Sinek discusses here will help you get where you need to be. You need to apply them.
My rating: 9/10. Give this book a read/listen. You won’t regret it. You can buy Start With Why by Simon Sinek here.
Have you read this book? What do you think are the best parts of the book? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.