Leading Innovation

How great leaders inspire action, Simon Sinek TED Talk, (2009).

There is a pattern to great leadership. Great leaders all think, act and communicate in similar ways. 

The Golden Circle


Why, How, What

Very few organisations or people know why they do what they do.

Inspired leaders and organisations regardless of their size think, act and communicate from the inside.

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

Do business with people who believe what you believe. 

Human brain correlation to this model. Limbic brain – controls decision making not language. 

Law of diffusion of innovation.


If you want mass market success or acceptance of idea, you can’t reach it until a certain point on the model. 

What you do is the proof of what you believe (the why).

There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders have a position of authority. We follow those who lead because they inspire us. We follow those who lead not for them but for us. 

Implications for schools

  • Lessons need a clear ‘why’. Children need to connect with ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing. Teachers, therefore, need to be wholly clear on this in the planning stages. This idea also has strong implications in all aspects of teaching and learning, assessment and particularly marking and feedback.
  • Senior leaders should consider the ‘why’ of their practise and how they ‘can lead’ rather than simply ‘be leaders’.
  • Those who lead others in school are not always those with leadership responsibility.
  • A school must have a strong purpose and idea, strong values that lead why they do what they do if they are to grow, to attract pupils, parents and families to connect and become partners with the school.
  • The ‘why’ of a school must be more than ‘to prepare pupils for their futures’. All staff must share a vision that leads how and what they do.
  • It is almost too easy to create a ‘shared vision’. Many schools promote the ‘values’ behind their school in lists that contain almost every abstract noun in the book. Too often this leads to a ‘shallow’ why.
  • Law of diffusion of innovation has implications for the take-up of new initiatives developed and implemented by ‘leaders’ in schools. If we want new initiatives to be successful and welcomed by staff (rather than instantly disregarded as ‘extra work’ or ‘the same thing as before’, teachers and learners need to connect with the ‘why’ behind them. And this ‘why’ needs to have clear purpose and benefit to learning and learners.

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