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The Most Important Characteristic Of A Leader

November 17, 2020 - By Simon Sinek, American author on leadership, and motivational speaker.

COMMENT ON THIS VIDEO BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP

The problem with leadership work (care and growth) is that it is vitally important but rarely urgent. Because of this it can be put off for another day – and typically that is what happens. Leaders are not here to produce outcomes, they are here to produce the people to produce outcomes. This will only happen when they are courageous enough to focus their time and attention on the care and growth of their people, when they schedule time for the leadership work and stick to the plan. What gives leaders the courage to do this is simply the conviction that people matter and that, as those in charge of others, their job is to give to them not to get results out of them.

OUR SUMMARY OF THIS VIDEO: I (Simon Sinek) am often asked what the most important characteristics of leadership are – vision, charisma, etc. I know plenty of incredible leaders that aren’t Steve Jobs visionaries. And I know some fantastic leaders who do not have charisma – they’re quiet and super-introverted, not that exciting to talk to or spend time with.

When I say charisma I mean the traditional definition which is more about energy. But I believe that charisma is undying belief in something – and they have that in spades.

But I think courage is the one thing that all great leaders have to have because we are surrounded by overwhelming forces every day pushing us to play the finite game. The pressures are overwhelming.

(NOTE: Sinek defines a finite game as having known players, fixed rules and agreed-upon objectives. By contrast, rules are changeable in the infinite game, with unknown players who are in it to keep playing. Problems arise when finite players are up against infinite players. Often the former end up mired in lost trust and declining innovation.)

If you’re a public company, all the markets want for their own selfish gain is for you to make short-term decisions. If you’re a numbers-driven person, the pressures are overwhelming. If you’re in survival mode the pressures are overwhelming. If you have a spouse who spends more money than you can make, the pressures are overwhelming.

All the pressures around us – even the way we treat competition versus rivalry (we feel like we have to win win win all the time) – are absolutely overwhelming for us to be finite and to prioritize the short term over the long term, the urgent over the important.

It takes unbelievable courage to put the important before the urgent. It takes unbelievable courage to resist all the pressures coming from selfish outside parties, to do the right thing.

Which begs the question, how do you get courage?

The answer is you have to have people in your life who love you and believe in you friends, colleagues, employees – that when you just don’t have it in you, you don’t think you can, somebody says I’ve got your back, I believe in you.

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