Genius Insights on Leadership from Simon Sinek on Marie Forleo’s show

Simon Sinek is interviewed on MarieTV and shares pure genius insights about leadership.  You can watch the video of the full 30-minute interview below, and here are a few highlights of my favorite quotes from Simon’s wisdom about creating environments of trust and cooperation, taking care of your people, so they can take care of getting results:

“Our happiness, our joy, our success, everything is dependent on our relationships. And we respond to the environments we’re in. You can take a good person and put them in a bad environment and they’re capable of doing bad things. Likewise, you can take a person that the group or even society has given up on and you put them in a good environment and they’re capable of turning their lives around and really making something remarkable out of themselves. We are social animals and we respond to the environments we’re in and leaders are responsible for building that environment. If you create an environment in which people feel safe amongst their own, we will naturally, the natural human response to those conditions is trust and cooperation.
Remember, trust and cooperation are feelings, they’re not instructions. There’s no PowerPoint or pitch that you can give upon the end that someone will trust you. You can’t tell somebody, “Trust me.” It doesn’t work that way. They’re feelings.  Likewise, if you create an environment where we actually fear each other, fear the people with whom we work, the natural human reaction to that environment is paranoia, cynicism, mistrust, and self-interest. That’s what happens. There’s enough danger outside the organization, there’s enough stuff going on outside that we shouldn’t have to fear the people we work with or fear our own leaders. And most leaders don’t get this. Most leaders think leadership is about being in charge. No, it’s not. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.
Most leaders think everybody works for them. No, you work for the people in your organization. It’s your responsibility to take care of them, make them feel safe, and they will naturally want to cooperate and work hard and give you their blood and sweat and tears to advance your vision. All they ask is you take care of them, make them feel valued and valuable, and the rest takes care of itself. If they fear the leader then they’re gonna take steps to protect themselves frommthe leader. It’s pervasive in our world today. If you work in an organization where it’s standard practice for employees to feel the need to send a CYA email after every single decision they make, that is a sign that they are taking time and energy out of their day, away from doing their job in order to protect themselves from their own leaders. You know, anybody who keeps a file of all the good things they’ve done in their career just in case they need it, that is people taking time and energy away from doing their jobs in order to protect themselves from their own organization. So you can’t ask those people to give you the best of their thinking and be more productive if you’ve created an environment where they’re forced to protect themselves from you.
The only variable inside an organization is the environment. That is entirely within our control, and that’s the leader’s responsibility.
Work-life imbalance has nothing to do with how much yoga we do. Work-life imbalance means I feel safe at home but I don’t feel safe at work. That’s the imbalance. And no amount of yoga or free snacks in the cafeteria will solve that. You know, it’s leadership. It’s a leadership problem.
So if a leader doesn’t feel safe from their own people, it’s because the leader isn’t taking care of their people.
You can run a company, you can manage a project, but you can only lead people.
When we’re junior, the only thing we have to do is be good at our jobs. That’s it. The company trains us how to do our job, some of us get advanced degrees in how to do our job, accounting, engineering, whatever. And if you’re really good at doing your job eventually they’ll promote you and eventually you’ll get promoted into a position where you are now responsible for the people who do the job you used to do. But nobody teaches us how to do that. So they put us in a position of leadership and demand results, which is like putting us in front of the machine and demanding results, although they never showed us how to use the machine. And so we fumble our way through and we break things and we don’t want anybody to know that we have no clue what we’re doing. And of course we manage people, because I do know how to do your job better than you. That’s what got me promoted. We have to go through this transition where when you’re now in a leadership position, you are now no longer responsible for the results.
You’re now responsible for the people who are responsible for the results. But when you’re the leader, you’re taking care of your people so they can be at their natural best, so that they can thrive. And you know that their work is not your responsibility, they are your responsibility. Their work is their responsibility.”

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