How leaders can motivate others to take action, according to Simon Sinek

Nils Liedlich
1 min readApr 7, 2022


People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

That was the core message of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk called “How great leaders inspire action” he held in 2009. According to Sinek, great leaders and businesses have a common denominator:

They’re able to communicate their WHY (as opposed to their WHAT).

To inspire and to get heard, leaders ought to know and communicate their “why”.

Sinek’s thesis is based on the belief that your most hardcore customers will by the product because they identify with it.

Sinek mentions Martin Luther King as an example, stating that his speech was called “I have a dream” — not “I have a plan”. Also, Sinek says King’s audience didn’t show up for him — they showed up for themselves. They showed up because they identified with King’s beliefs.

What struck me about his presentation was that Sinek focused on the early adopters. Many of today’s business books are about “finding your 1000 true fans”, finding your early evangelists, etc. In Sinek’s eyes, you shouldn’t worry about mass market adoption before you have these early adopters buying your product.

And according to him, early adopters are extra prone to buy a product which defines them.

The crucial qualities today’s leaders need to inspire

The crucial qualities today’s leaders need to have are empathy, having a clear vision, and self-awareness. This is because leaders have to be certain of their why to inspire others and drive action.

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Nils Liedlich

18 y/o learner. I aspire to become a top 1% writer by delivering you actionable content around personal and commercial growth.