The book written by Simon Sinek answers one of the most fundamental questions leaders have asked themselves: Why some teams pull together and others not ? He states that great leaders inspire with action, and goes into the roots of human biology and psychology to analyze what truly makes a great leader. Throughout his book he provides an enthralling point of view on what it takes to lead.
These are some of the most important lessons obtained from this book:
Lesson #1: Truth is the most important value in the organization. Building trust requires nothing more than telling the truth.
He argues about this point by exposing how trust is a key component of any relationship, Patrick Lencioni also supports this claim in his book the Five Dysfunctions of a Team where he exposes that the root cause of any dysfunctional team is the absence of trust. A way to deal with this is to always set clear expectations and promote an environment that fosters telling the truth about the outcome of results.
Lesson #2: When people have to manage dangers from inside the organization, the organization itself becomes less able to face dangers from the outside.
This lesson goes back to the primitive instincts of every human being. If we work in an environment that doesn’t foster trust and each person feels to be under constant attack or subject to non-constructive critics any idea that surges will be thwarted. Therefore, it is extremely important to have a circle of safety within the organization, this way growth will be promoted and each person will be free to express new ideas.
Lesson #3: The goal of a leader is not to give orders but to provide direction and let the other people think.
Cooperation + Collaboration = Key
This concept has gone through several psychological studies where it has been found that employees who come up with what they think is expected from them at work are more likely to be compliant to those requirements. Instead of a leader just imposing the rules, let them think.
Allowing other people to come up with their own ideas to solve determined problems not only will make them more motivated towards accomplishing the goal but will also train them to think, not only comply. Responsibility is not doing as we told, that’s obedience. Responsibility is doing what it’s right.
Lesson #4: Customers will never love a company until employees love it first.
Unless every person within the company is in line with the Core Values it promotes and is fully on-board with its long-term mission its growth will never achieve its full potential. For customers to buy a product they have to feel that you are totally convinced of the solution you are providing, this is key for any marketing or salespeople.
Lesson #5: In a bad economy, employees need extra help, not the opposite (layoffs).
This argument might go against some people intuition that tells them that when the economy is down layoffs will help the company. On the contrary Simon Sinek proves through the analysis of General Electric and CostCo that this is not always the truth.
While Jack Welch (GE) was striking fear into the hearts of his managers by firing the bottom 10% to balance the books, Jeff Sinegal (Costco) was concerned about giving his employees a raise – at a time where the economy was under a major crisis. This turned Costco stock to be constantly raising since its beginnings always incrementing profits and performance.
Lesson #6: Give authority to those closest to the information. Leader’s job is to have vision not authority.
There is a commonly recited story where a cadet in World War II was looking at an outpost to the enemy lines and after being alarmed by a sudden movement he rushed to his commander and asked him whether he should be able to command the bombardment. As a response, the commander told him that he was looking at the enemies for more than ten days, he already has the answer.
This story supports the argument that Sinek established throughout the books. In order to have an efficient organization you have to give power to those closest to the information for them to be able to make rational decisions and accelerate the responses to business decisions.
Lesson #7: Managers look after short-term goals. Leaders look after long-term goals.
He states that good leadership is like exercise. We do not see any improvement to our bodies with day-to-day comparisons. It’s only when we compare picture of ourselves over a period of weeks or months that we can see a stark difference. The impact of leadership is best judged over time.
If one were to summarize this book by Simon Sinek with two main words important for leadership they would be Empathy and Trust.
A leader with empathy and trust has to be capable of putting itself on the shoes of every employee. Also he or she should be able to promote a safe environment, one of encouragement that meets the basic human needs to grow and thrive throughout the organization.
Closing with a phrase from Simon Sinek:
Empathy and Trust are the keys to leadership. Show it to those you lead, and it will be reciprocated.