Today’s guest Simon Sinek is an unshakable optimist who believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together. A bestselling author, Simon has recently written a new book, The Infinite Game. Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Simon is also a speaker and business leader. On today’s show, he’ll be drawing on his experience teaching leaders and organizations how to inspire people to explain how changing the way we think about leadership can revolutionize our working life.
If you haven’t already listened to my first conversation with Simon, check it out here!
In today’s conversation, we’ll explain the five practices of good leadership, and how each one will change your attitude to your work and help you find meaning in your life. Along the way, we’ll give you some quick practical tips you can use to start on your way to becoming a better leader.
5 PRACTICES OF GOOD LEADERSHIP
ADVANCE A JUST CASE
- A just cause: a cause so just we would be willing to sacrifice in order to advance it. A just cause is about the future. It is subjective, gives our work and our lives meaning beyond what we sell and the money we make.
- A why is from the past, it is objective, the foundation of who we are and what we do.
- Many make the mistake of placing huge pressure on themselves to create a vision, but only a small percentage of the population are true visionaries, so we are holding ourselves to an unfair standard.
- You don’t have to come up with a vision, but you do have to find a vision. If there is a leader already out there with a vision you admire and believe, you can commit your life, your business and your efforts to that vision.
- Sacrifice can mean turning down a better paying job in order to stay where you are, or working late hours and going on frequent business trips. You might not like every day at work, but you will get to love every day at work because every day of work matters.
BUILDING TRUSTING TEAMS
- As human beings we are junk by ourselves—we’re just not that smart, and not that strong.
- In teams, we are remarkable. We can solve incredible problems and lift huge weights when we work together.
- A leader is a person who takes responsibility for the people around them and makes a commitment to see the others around them rise.
- “You don’t need a leadership position to be a leader.” One is formal authority,
- Building trusting teams is about building an environment in which trust can thrive. This means an environment in which people feel safe to ask questions without fear or retribution, and confident that the people around us will rush in to help us.
- Without trusting teams, we show up to work lying, hiding and faking. We won’t admit we don’t know how something works, and we won’t ask for help, and eventually these cracks build up and take their toll on an organization.
- With a trusting team, you can all advance a just cause together, and retire knowing another generation you have looked after will take over for you.
STUDY YOUR WORTHY RIVALS
- Observing another person’s strengths can reveal our own weaknesses.
- Ask yourself: who are the other organizations that do a better job than you do? Reflect on where you can improve.
- Organizations that create internal competition can be dangerous, as it can lead to team members undermining each other and hoarding information instead of sharing it.
- It is healthy to have rivals internally. If you have ever been angry at someone getting promoted over you, consider: what is that person revealing about you?
- Admitting that others have things they do better than us helps us work on ourselves.
- Taking on this way of thinking is a nicer way to show up in the world. It’s about an attitude of self-improvement rather than trying to beat everybody that does what we do in a game that has no finish line, no standard metrics, and no standard timeframes.
- Anybody can declare themselves number one if they pick the metrics.
- Existential flexibility is the capacity to engage in a profound strategic shift in how you’re approaching something, in order to advance your just cause.
- Most people will never have to do it in their lives—some will do it just once or twice. But could you go through it if you need to? Have you done the hard work to establish a just cause and build trusting teams so you are in a place to be able to engage in existential flexibility?
- This practice is not an easy decision. It is about doing the right thing and if you have to, walking away from the strategy you have been using in order to advance your cause, even if you have made a large investment in terms of time or money.
- Example: Steve Jobs and his team were shown a graphic user interface by Xerox–and Jobs recognized the technology was a leap forward they needed to invest in.
- His team told him they couldn’t walk away from the strategy they had been using, but Jobs did, and that decision led to the Mackintosh.
COURAGE TO LEAD
- Courage is not an internal fortitude, it is external. The parachute on your back gives you the courage to jump.
- What gives us courage is the people in our lives who believe in us and tell us not to give up: our family, our colleagues, our friends.
- Books mentioned: Start With Why | Leaders Eat Last | Infinite Game
- Start With Why was about Simon’s loss of passion for his work, and how he found it again.
- Leaders Eat Last is about trust, how we form teams built on trust and what happens when we have trusting teams.
- Infinite Game is about what happens when you have a purpose, you have trusting teams, and you need to operate in the world.
- Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us (@jimkwik and @simonsinek) and tell us your favorite aha! moment. We’ll repost some of our favorites!
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