Simon Sinek on Why Creating a Sense of Purpose Helps Leaders Lead

In Chapter 13 of 16 of his 2009 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, "Start With Why" author Simon Sinek highlights why inspiring leadership, power, and authority, come not from position or rank, but from initiative and framing a sense of purpose. Sinek shares why we follow those who lead - they provide sense of direction and purpose - and the role selfishness - "What's my stake?" - plays in the process. Simon Sinek is a trained ethnographer who applies his curiosity around why people do what they do to teach leaders and companies how to inspire people. He is the author of "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action". Sinek holds a BA degree in cultural anthropology from Brandeis University.


Erik Michielsen: How does framing a sense of purpose catalyze leadership capability?

Simon Sinek: In the first page of my book I wrote an ode to leadership, why I wrote the book. There are leaders and there are those who lead.  There are people who derive their authority or power from rank or position and there are those who lead.  Whether they are individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to.  We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves.  Leaders do not need position or rank.  If they do not win office or promotion, they will continue to lead.  Where there are others who all their authority come from their rank or position. The reason we follow those who lead, true leaders, is because they give us a sense of direction, show us a sense of purpose.  It is one thing to say they show us a path.  The whole idea of blazing a path is that there is no path.  It is the ability to look at a field of grass and say there needs to be a path there and I will lay down the first steps.   That’s wonderful and that's inspiring and great leadership comes from those who point in a direction and say who's in and who's out?