Turning Talent Inside Out: Flipping Your Leadership Perspective

As our workforce continues to evolve, leaders need to rise and guide organizations through the maze of talent management. Whether it’s recruiting, onboarding, employee development or succession planning, there has never been a more critical time in business for leaders to step up.

In his seminal TedTalk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” Simon Sinek discusses the Golden Circle, a concept of leading from the inside out, not the outside in:

“About three and a half years ago, I made a discovery. And this discovery profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked, and it even profoundly changed the way in which I operate in it. As it turns out, there’s a pattern. As it turns out, all the great inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, they all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it, and it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the Golden Circle.

Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.”

Now, if you transfer this concept into the talent management and organizational development space, you’ll really begin to see the power of thinking from the inside out. In talent management, the model looks like this –

The WHY is your culture. It is core to everything you do. Great work cultures are clearly defined, nurtured, promoted and are real. Culture is not buzz words or the program-of-the-month. It is the identity of the business and resonates throughout everything. Culture should ALWAYS come first.

The HOW is your process. It is what moves organic, smaller businesses into scalable, replicable companies that have the creativity to inspire and grow their workforce within a structured, yet flexible framework.

The WHAT is your product and service offerings. This is pretty straight-forward for any organization. It’s what you sell to make money.

The most interesting thing about this flipped model is that it’s people-driven. If you start by identifying the culture in which you work and then recruit, retain and develop people under that flag, it will carry through to your businesses processes and the products and services you offer.

Ultimately, by putting talent first, you end up creating a meaningful, growing business whose own identity will resonate with its employees and customers.

It sounds so simple, but it isn’t.

Flipping your vision takes patience, investment and determination. It’s always easier to focus on immediate profits and bottom line numbers to drive your business growth. That’s hard data that you’re always going to be measuring.

To focus on the WHY first, well that requires the complex thinking around your leadership, your employees and what you all are doing together for the business.

Ultimately, you learn that it’s a lot harder to identify and nurture talent than it is to count pennies.

But the reward is that much greater.

BTW, you can see Simon’s TedTalk here: