Drucker and Sinek – The Ins and Outs of Purpose

In the realm of business thought leadership, Peter Drucker and Simon Sinek are two guiding stars. Their insights, though from different times, converge on a pivotal idea: the heart of business is purpose.


Drucker’s profound assertion that the primary purpose of a business is to create a customer revolutionized management thinking. This wasn’t about mere transactions, but a shift in perspective. Traditional business models often begin with the product. Drucker challenged this, emphasizing a customer-first approach. By addressing the needs and desires of the customer, businesses ensure their products have a genuine market.

Creating a customer, in Drucker’s view, transcends making a sale. It’s about delivering unparalleled value. By understanding and tailoring offerings to what the customer truly values, businesses foster trust and mutual benefit, laying the foundation for lasting relationships and a sustainable business.

In Drucker’s thinking, understanding the customer is not a one-time task. As customer needs evolve, businesses must adapt, ensuring they continually create and serve their customer base.


Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” philosophy emphasizes the importance of understanding the deeper purpose or motivation behind what businesses do. Sinek believes that companies that lead with “why” inspire their customers and employees, rather than relying on manipulative tactics like sticks and carrots or clever marketing.

Sinek introduced the concept of the Golden Circle – ‘Why’, ‘How’, and ‘What’. Most companies know ‘What’ they do and ‘How’ they do it, but few truly understand ‘Why’ they do what they do. The ‘Why’ isn’t about profit but about purpose, cause, or belief.

When businesses clearly communicate their “why,” they attract customers and employees who share similar beliefs, fostering loyalty, deeper connections and again create a sustainable business.

A harmonious balance

The monotony of daily tasks, like closing accounts or meeting targets, can seem draining without a deeper purpose. Sinek and Drucker converge on the idea that businesses thrive when they align with intrinsic human motivations. Take Disney, for instance. On the surface, they’re in the entertainment business. But delve deeper, and you’ll find that their teams are driven by a purpose far more profound: spreading happiness. Every ride designed, every show performed, and every character brought to life is fueled by this overarching mission. Their purpose is like a magnet to customers and inspiration to all stakeholders.

In the intricate dance of business, Drucker and Sinek’s insights guide us to a harmonious balance. Drucker’s philosophy emphasizes the external purpose: the imperative to create a customer. It’s about understanding, serving, and delivering unparalleled value to those we aim to reach. This external focus ensures sustainability and growth, as businesses that resonate with their customers thrive in the marketplace.

Concurrently, Sinek’s teachings illuminate the internal purpose: the quest to provide meaningful work. Beyond metrics and bottom lines, businesses are collectives of individuals, each seeking a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment. When employees find meaning in their roles, they’re not just working for a paycheck but are driven by a profound sense of contribution. This internal alignment not only boosts morale and productivity but also fosters innovation and loyalty.

In essence, the most successful businesses recognize and nurture both these purposes. Externally, they create and cherish their customers, and internally, they cultivate a culture of meaningful work. In this dual commitment lies the true essence of a thriving enterprise.

About the Author

Paul Doyle
Paul Doyle is the founder of LeaderWork. He brings more than 35 years of diverse business experience, including 15 years as a CEO, leading manufacturing companies. Paul has been active in North America with companies ranging from $20 million to $450 million in revenue.