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Simon Sinek On The Nature And Effects Of Real Leadership

October 19, 2017 - By Simon Sinek, American author on leadership, and motivational speaker.

COMMENT ON THIS VIDEO BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, DIRECTOR, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP

Simon Sinek has made a number of points which are totally aligned to the Legitimate Leadership framework:

  1. Leadership is absolute love for the people who have committed their lives to this enterprise.
  2. Leadership is hard to measure in the short term but easy to measure in the long term.
  3. Leaders care for those who report to them directly with one purpose only: that they will take care of the people in their charge.
  4. The best leaders have the courage to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming pressure.
  5. Only when we foster relationships with people around us who care about and love us do we find the courage to do the right thing.

OUR SUMMARY OF THIS VIDEO:  When did your love for your wife happen? It’s not easy to prove when it started. Like leadership, it’s easier to prove that it exists over a period of time.

Likewise with going to gym – you come back after the first session and see no change in your body. But if you believe there’s something there and you commit to going on with the action, to the regime, you will get into shape.

If you go to the dentist twice a year, your teeth will fall out because you haven’t brushed them every day. Brushing your teeth does nothing unless you do it every day. Going to gym for eight hours doesn’t produce a result; going to gym consistently over time does.

These things are not about an event, but about consistency.

Likewise for leadership. We go to leadership events, which are comparable to going to the dentist because they are important for reminding us and getting us on track. But it is the daily practice that matters the most.

Leadership is an accumulation of many, many little things and events that, by themselves, are innocuous and useless. It’s those things, done over and over and over and in combination with other things, which will prompt people to say “I love my job”. Not “I like my job” (which means they are well paid and it’s challenging and they like the people).

“I love my job” means you don’t want to work anywhere else – it doesn’t matter how much somebody else is willing to pay.

In business we have colleagues and co-workers. In the military, by contrast, they think of each other as brothers and sisters, as family. If you really have a strong corporate culture, the people will think of each other as brothers and sisters. They may fight and bicker, but the love doesn’t go away and they will be united against any outside challenge or threat.

How do you create brothers and sisters out of strangers? Common beliefs and values; executives (parents) who care about the children’s success, who care to raise their skills and discipline them when necessary, so that they can raise their confidence to the level where they will achieve things that the parents could never have dreamt of achieving. Leadership is absolute love for the people who committed their lives to this enterprise.

It’s a simple concept but it’s incredibly hard work. It’s hard to measure in the short term but easy to measure in the long term. Over the long term the traditional metrics will all go up – profits market share etc. More importantly, they will go up more stably. Your organisation will be able to weather the hard times better because people will come together; they won’t abandon ship.

Also over the long term, your staff churn will go down. Loyalty will be better, people will turn down better-paying jobs.

But it is true that scale breaks things. As an organisation grows, spending time with any single individual becomes more difficult to do. According to Dunbar’s number we are not made for populations bigger than about 150 – that is, we cannot maintain more than about 150 close relationships (a close relationship being defined as “if you were at a bar with a group of friends and someone came in, you would ask that person to join you”). The reason is that there are two limiting factors: time (you don’t have enough of it to pay a lot of attention to everyone); and memory (you just can’t remember everyone).

So leadership becomes interesting in a company with many employees. The CEO can’t know all of them. In this situation a CEO’s statement like “I care about every one of my people” is a nonsense. But she could credibly say “I desperately care about the people whose names I know and whose faces I recognise”; and “I desperately care about my leaders and I instil in them every day that I will give them the tools and I will take care of them with one purpose only: that they will take care of the people in their charge … and I want those people in turn to take care of the people in their charge, and so on.”

So by the time you get down to the masses, where the thousands of employees exist (because the seniors are few in number), about 100 or 150 of them can look to their direct leader and say “that person cares about me. That person is my leader – not the CEO, but my leader.”

But sometimes you get fired or you get in trouble and the next guy gets all the credit for what you did. Only the best leaders have the courage to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming pressure. And here’s the folly: courage is not some deep internal fortitude. You don’t dig down deep and find it. No, courage is external – it comes from the support you feel when someone has your back; it comes from the relationships that we foster with the people around us who care about us and love us. When we have those relationships, we find the courage to do the right thing. And when we act with courage, that in turn will inspire those in our organisation to also act with courage. In other words, it’s still an external thing. That is what inspiration is – “I’m inspired to follow your example”.

And those relationships that we foster over the course of a lifetime will not only make us into the leaders that we need to be and hope we can be, but they will often save our life, save us from depression, from giving up, from all manner of negative feelings about our capabilities and our future – when someone just says “I love you and I will follow you no matter what”.

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