10 [Inspiring] Simon Sinek Leadership Lessons
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Simon Oliver Sinek is a British-American author and motivational speaker who is best known for popularizing the concept of the golden circle and “starting with WHY.”
Not quite 50 yet…
…Simon had already met an array of leaders and organizations, including Microsoft, GE Silicones, AOL, New York City Ballet, Members of the United States Congress.
Wondering how did this man get the attention of the most influential leaders in the world, starting from scratch?
He discovered incredible patterns in how the greatest leaders think, act, and communicate and he is always willing to share it with anyone who listens.
Read on to see Bounce Mojo’s take on the best leadership lessons from Simon Sinek.
We will cover:
- how being real-however real- is better than polishing your image
- the many ways leaders listen to their people
- how to control your mind-the Simon Sinek way
- the art of asking ‘why’
- and more!
Let’s get right into it.
1 – Speak Last
All your life, you’ve always been told that you should learn to listen.
But here’s the catch.
While listening can really yield great results, especially if you’re a leader, Simon says that it is speaking last that you should learn to master.
Sinek’s favorite example is Nelson Mandela, one of the most inspirational leaders the world has ever had.
Nelson is actually a son of a tribal chief and he’s always present during their tribe’s gatherings when he was younger.
Little Nelson was able to absorb two notable things upon watching his father lead the meetings.
First is that they all sit in a circle…
…and the second being that his father is always the last one to speak.
If you think about it…
…leaders do always have the last words, the closing words in a meeting.
But what Simon emphasizes is the art of not speaking or commenting at all until everyone is done with their parts.
That’s the only time that you, as a leader, will speak.
Why is that?
Let Simon himself explain.
“I see it in boardrooms every day of the week, even people who consider themselves good leaders, who may actually be decent leaders, will walk into a room and say, “here’s the problem,” “here’s what I think but I’m interested in your opinion, let’s go around the room.” ..It’s too late...
...One, it gives everybody else the feeling that they have been heard – it gives everyone else the ability to feel that they have contributed. And two, you get the benefit of hearing what everybody else has to think before you render your opinion.“
The trick is to keep your opinions to yourself. If you agree, don’t nod. And if you disagree, definitely don’t shake your head.
Sounds easy, right?
But actually it’s a skill only a few people have already mastered.
We live in a world where everyone has strong opinions about something and wants to be heard. So keeping yourself silent until everyone has spoken is one of the qualities only a real leader can master.
2. Be Better Today
Continuing with Simon Sinek’s brutally honest name-dropping saga is his story about Microsoft and Apple.
Having been spoken at both education summits for the two companies, Simon shared how he saw a fine example of an infinite player and a finite one.
After his Microsoft gig, Simon was given a token that was Microsoft’s newest Zune. It was shiny and it was elegant.
And because he likes stirring pots…
…upon encountering a senior Apple executive, Simon deadpan said that the Zune was much better than Apple’s iPod touch.
To which the Apple executive replied, “I have no doubt.”
And that may be the most infinite player he’s ever seen that time.
While Microsoft talked about how to beat Apple, Apple executives spent a hundred percent of their presentations talking about how to help teachers teach and how to help students learn.
This leads us to…
…the finite and infinite player.
“Finite players play to beat the people around them. Infinite players play to be better than themselves – to wake up every single day and say, “how can we make our company a better version of itself today than it was yesterday?” We also have to play the infinite game. It’s not about being ranked number one. It’s not about outdoing anyone. It’s about how to outdo yourself.”
Seeing yourself as your sole competition ensures that you stay in the game for long.
That is because instead of focusing on others and how to beat them, you are dedicating all your attention to what is yours and it’s flaws and the steps on how to improve it.
As Simon excellently put it: “That is what ensures you find joy. Because the joy comes not from comparison – but from advancement.”
3. Stack Your Deck
How to build a good following and a great experience as a leader?
Put the odds in your favor.
Stack your deck.
The thing is, in their urge or desperation to be known and followed, most people undervalue themselves and take just whatever comes their way.
Know your value enough to call the shots.
When he was asked if he ever had any bad engagements, Simon Sinek realized that not really, he didn’t have any.
That is because he knew that he’s at his best when surrounded by people who believe in what he believes.
“It’s because I stack the deck. It’s because I want to be there – I want to be around people who want me there. In other words, if I’m somebody’s tenth choice I’ll probably turn it down. Whereas if I’m their first choice, they really want me there, and so I’m more likely to have good engagement.”
That being said…
…Simon is supportive of his company and they are also supportive of him. What else could go wrong?
…is that when you choose to be where your strength lies, you will always be at your best.
4. Go After What You Want
One of Simon’s most remarkable observations is this: that there are two kinds of people.
The first one is the people who focus on what they want.
And the second ones are the people who only see the thing that prevents them from getting the prize.
So which one do you belong to?
Let Simon elaborate it further.
In a talk, Simon tells the story about him and his friends running on Central Park.
At the end of the marathon is a station for free bagels.
Simon only saw the free bagels and his friend saw the long line and was ready to retire.
Determined to get his bagel fix…
… Simon walked up to the line, leaned to a couple of strangers in line, and put his arm forward to pull out two bagels.
Voila! Instant bagel for Simon.
The point here is not scoring free snacks, clearly, but being adamant to get what you want and focusing yur eyes on the prize…
…all while doing it your very own way.
“So the point is you don’t have to wait in line. You don’t have to do it the way everybody else has done it. You can do it your way you can break the rules, you just can’t get in the way of somebody else getting what they want.”
5. Control Your Mind
Who says you can’t control your mind when you are nervous and pressured?
Not Simon Sinek.
There’s this amazing observation the motivational speaker shared after watching the Olympics.
Whenever the athletes were asked if they’re nervous, they would simply say ‘no. I’m excited.”
Think about it.
When you’re nervous, your heart rate starts to go up. You get a little tense and sweaty, too. You have an expectation of what’s coming and your mind immediately interprets that as nervousness.
And guess what?
I’m sure we are all familiar with how nervousness can certainly mess up any kind of situation, especially ones you’ve worked hard to prepare for.
But how about when you’re excited?
Your heart rate goes up, too and you also get nervous and sweaty.
Truth to be told…
…it is really how you look at things. We’ve forgotten how powerful our minds can be. And you certainly can control how your mind and body will react to different situations.
As Simon put it: “It’s kind of a remarkable thing to deal with pressure by interpreting what your body is experiencing as excitement rather than nerves and it’s really kind of effective; it makes you want to rush forward rather than pull back – and yet it’s the same experience.”
As being a leader means being the least to be pressured, learning how to control your mind and thinking could come very well in handy in the most difficult of times.
6. Life Is A Journey
Now, Simon directed this one mostly to the Millenials.
Have you ever resigned from a job because you are not feeling any fulfillment at all? Like, you and that job just don’t click?
Simon says, you might not have seen the mountain yet.
Wait, what mountain?
Take it from the master leader himself.
“It’s as if an entire generation is standing at the foot of a mountain. They know exactly what they want. They can see the summit. What they can’t see is the mountain – this large immovable object. That doesn’t mean you have to do your time, that’s not what I’m talking about. Take a helicopter climb, I don’t care. But there’s still a mountain. Life, career, fulfillment, relationships – are journeys.”
…leaving something-or even someone- just because you don’t feel any kind of fulfillment is a great mistake.
It is a result of impatience because life and career is one heck of a journey.
A successful run is not something you look for like in a scavenger hunt. It is a process.
… do you have the patience to go on a journey for your career or your love? Or do you just quit and move on to another one instead?
7. Take Responsibility
Admit it, we love taking credits and praises.
But before you welcome any form of praise and credits, Simon said to make sure you can take responsibilities too.
And we’re not talking about duties. We are talking about accountability.
As a matter of fact…
Sinek shared how he had seen it all in the world of finance and science, with all these men who are smarter than the rest of us- until the whole thing collapses.
He had seen how people blame everyone and everything but themselves.
It’s that, sometimes, you are the problem.
And it takes a real leader to accept that fact and take responsibility.
“Take accountability for your actions. You can take all the credit in the world for the things that you do right as long as you also take responsibility for the things you do wrong. It must be a balanced equation.”
8. Be True To Yourself
Remember how Tiger Woods used to be the good guy of golf?
What a real bummer it was when it was revealed that he was actually quite the opposite.
“He lied.” Is how Simon Sinek described what the athlete did.
So basically, Tiger Woods established himself as the gentleman of golf when behind closed doors, he was actually a cheater.
People were drawn to the idea of a good guy and he had that to thank for his popularity.
Needless to say…
…his fall from grace was a painful one.
Just imagine if he just showed the real him. Imagine if he was authentic.
He could have been the bad boy of golf. He would have gotten the same fame, endorsements, and wealth he enjoyed by falsely posing himself as a good guy.
There’s just one difference…
…being authentic means attracting people who share your values and beliefs. It means having no fear that your mask would fall off soon and your real self would be revealed.
It means having followers that are truly entirely yours.
“This is why authenticity matters – this is why you have to say and do the things you actually believe because the things you say and do are symbols of who you are and we look for those symbols so we can find people who believe what we believe.”
On the other hand…
… if you’re putting out false symbols or images, you will attract people to those symbols but you won’t be able to form a genuine trust with them.
“So the more you can give of yourself, the more you can give of what you believe – the more you can discipline. With discipline, say and do the things you actually believe.”
Once we start to practice authenticity, the powerful speaker says, strange but good things will start to happen.
9. Know Your Passion
You might have heard someone say that they are like this at home and they are like that when at work.
While it may seem true…
…the truth is, you can be both at work and at home.
And you certainly can do your passion as a job instead of looking at it as something you do privately, like a pretty little secret or trivia about you.
Passion is a result.
Passion is energy.
It’s the very feeling when you are doing something you love that you can imagine yourself doing it for free without any problem.
The idea is to make everything you do at home and at work something that you are thrilled and excited about.
So how to do it?
Simply by doing things that excite you.
Let Simon himself articulate it.
“I’m very involved in the art world – I love to go to museums and galleries but I love to go see dance and performances because I want to see how others are interpreting the world. So that inspires me: new ideas, new thoughts, new ways of looking at the world – are things that interest me privately. And I seek it out and pay money for it, right? So, does that mean I have to have a career in the arts?
…no. It means I have to have a career where new ideas are explored, where people are experimenting and trying things out. And I have to explore new ideas and try things out and I’m just as excited to go to work every day as I am to go do something on a Saturday night.”
The idea of finding your passion is doing things you enjoy most of the time.
After all, you can never go wrong with something you do best.
10. Start With The Why
What would you buy?
A product from a computer manufacturer who had made a laptop to beat their competitor…
…or one that was made to cater to an elderly user’s needs? One with good intentions behind it?
This is where Simon Sinek’s famous “begin with WHY” comes in.
Let me explain this to you.
Remember the Wright brothers? The men who flew the first practical airplanes?
And have you ever heard about Samuel Pierpont Langley?
The latter had it all. Funds from the war department, popularity, and the best minds behind him.
And he was determined to be rich and famous.
…the Wright brothers had neither. Only the dream to change the world through a flying machine.
As Sinek further elaborated…
” The people who believed in the Wright Brothers dream worked with them with blood and sweat and tears…The others just worked for the paycheck and they tell stories of how every time the Wright Brothers went out, they would have to take five sets of parts because that’s how many times they would crash before they came in for supper.
…Eventually, on December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers took flight, and no one was there to even experience it. We found out about it a few days later and further proof that Langley was motivated by the wrong thing. The day the Wright brothers took flight, he quit.”
As it happened…
..they whys are still more valuable then the whats.
We follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves.
And it’s those who start with why that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.
Thank you very much.
Conclusion: 10 [Inspiring] Simon Sinek Leadership Lessons
Leaders are not born. They are made, and thanks to people like Simon Sinek, we are able to get a glimpse of what makes a dynamic leader’s mind.
Our favorite part is definitely the bit about the “whys.”
Now I won’t be able to see the market the same way ever again!
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