Most Leaders Don't Even Know the Game They're In | Simon Sinek at Live2Lead 2016Feb 27, 2020
so I'm ashamed to have a career. I talk about things like trust and cooperation and there should be no demand for my work, but the fact is that there is demand for my work, which means there is an opportunity, it means that trust and cooperation are not yet standard in our organizations and yet
theyshould be and we
knowthat so we're looking at ways to bring those things into our organizations so I thought I'd do something a little different today you
knowwhen I'm talking to tens of thousands of people and you have the chance to share a message of course
mostrational people would say let's go with something i've talked about many times and i'm really good but i'm not normal so i'm going to do something completely new and i hope this works there are two things that i think great
leadersneed to have empathy and perspective and i think these things are forgotten too often
leadersare so often so concerned about their state of In their position in the organization
theyactually forget about their real job and the real job of a leader is not about being in charge, it's about taking care of our charges and I don't think people realize this and don't I think people get trained for this, when we're juniors, our only responsibility is to be good at our job, that's all we really have to do, and some people actually go to get an advanced education and so they can really be good at their jobs, accountants or whatever, and you show up. and work hard and the company will give us tons and tons of training on how to do our job they will show us how to use the software they will send us for a few days to train us on whatever it is we do we are doing for the company and then they expect us to be good at our work and that's what we do we work so hard and if you're good at your job you'll get promoted and at some point you'll get promoted to a position where we are now responsible for the people doing the work we used to do but no one shows us how to do that and that's why we have managers and not leaders because the reason our managers micromanage us is because they actually know how to do the job better than we do that's what promoted them really what we have to do is get through a transition, some people make it quickly, some people make it slowly, and unfortunately some people will never make that transition, which is that we have to go through r this transition from being responsible for the work and then passing it on to someone who is now responsible for the people who are responsible for the work and as I said before one of the great things that is missing from
mostof our companies is that they are not teaching us how Leading and leadership is a skill like any other, it is a skill that can be practiced. and it's something you work on it's like a muscle if you practice it every day you'll get good and become a strong leader if you stop practicing you'll become a weak leader as it seems Saying that everyone has the ability to be a parent doesn't mean just because everyone wants to be a parent and it doesn't mean that everyone shouldn't be a parent leadership is the same we all have the ability to be leaders it doesn't mean that everyone should be a leader and it doesn't mean that everyone wants to be a leader and the reason is because it's about a lot of personal sacrifice remember you are not in charge you are responsible for those in your charge that means things like when everything goes well you have to give up all the credit and when everything goes wrong you have to take full responsibility that sucks good it's things like staying up late to show someone what to do is things like when something breaks when something goes wrong instead of yelling and yelling and taking control you say try again when the overwhelming pressures are not on them overwhelming pressures are on us at the end of the day great leaders are not accountable for the work they are accountable for the people w those accountable for the work are not
evenaccountable for the results I love talking to CEOs and tell them what their priority is and they put their hands on their hips all proud and say my priority is my customer I'm like really you
eventalk to a customer in 15 years there is no CEO on the planet responsible for the customer they just aren't responsible from the people who are responsible to the people who are responsible for the customer I'll tell you a true story a few months ago I stayed at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas it's a wonderful hotel and the reason it's a wonderful hotel is not because of the fancy beds any hotel can go and buy a fancy bed the reason it's a wonderful hotel is because of the people who work down. there if you walk past someone at the four seasons and this and they say hello you get the feeling they actually wanted to say hello not that somebody told them you have to say hello to all customers say hello to all guests they are right really I feel like they care now in their lobby they have a coffee stand and I went to buy a cup of coffee one afternoon and there was a barista named Noah who was serving me Noah he was fantastic he was friendly and funny and he engaged with me and I had fun much buying a cup of coffee.
In fact, I think I tipped him 100 percent. He was wonderful so as is my nature I asked Noah if you like your job and without wasting any time Noah says I love work and then I went on to say what the four seasons are doing that would do to you telling me I love my job and without missing a beat Noah said throughout the day that the managers will walk past me and ask how I'm doing. doing if there is anything i need to do my job better he said no just my manager any manager and then he said something magical he says i work at caesars palace too and caesars at caesar's palace the managers are trying to make sure we are doing everything right they catch us when we do the wrong things he says when i go to work there i like to keep my head under the radar and just get through the day so i can get my paycheck he says here at the four seasons i feel like i can be myself, the same person, a completely different customer experience. who will commit to Noah so in leadership we always criticize people we always say we have to put the right people in the buzz I have to fill my wrong team I have to get the right people but reality it's not the people it's the leadership if we create the right environment we'll have people like Noah in all four seasons if we create the wrong environment we'll have people like Noah at Caesar's Palace it's not the people and yet we're very quick to hire and fire it can't hiring and firing your children if your children have difficulties, we do not say that you should see in the school that you are up for adoption, so why when someone has performance problems at work? it's our instinct to say you're out, we don't practice tic empathy what empathy looks like here's the lack of empathy this is normal in our business world you walk into someone's office someone walks into our office and says your numbers are down for the third quarter in a row you have to collect your numbers otherwise i can't guarantee what the future will be like how inspired you think that person is to come to work the next day this is what empathy looks like when you walk into someone's office someone walks into your office and says your numbers are down for the third quarter in a row you're fine i'm worried about you what's going on we all have performance issues maybe someone's kid is sick maybe they have problems in their marriage maybe one of their parents are dying we don't know what is happening in their lives and of course it will affect performance at work.
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most leaders don t even know the game they re in simon sinek at live2lead 2016...
Empathy is caring about the human being, not just about his performance. We have to practice empathy and one of the groups we are pretty bad at. empathy with our young Millennials so let me show you what empathy looks like listening to understand trying to understand someone's point of view and disposition and one hundred percent of the talks I give the meetings I have invariably someone will raise their hand and asks about the millennial problem apparently this young generation is unbeatable apparently they have confused every company in every industry and now it's at the point where companies have given up and are now only asking millennials what it is what they want and they say we want free food and beanbags and now every company has free food and beanbags and guess what nothing has changed so what I thought we would do what I thought I would do is show you what empathy looks like? how do we practice empathy with someone who I don't understand how we practice empathy with an organization or a group that we are struggling with, so what We have to understand that it is divided into four things that I have b. summarized in parenting technology, impatience and environment, let's talk about parenting first, too many Millennials have grown up subject to what has been described as a failed parenting strategy, many of them were told growing up that they were special and they could have whatever they want just because they want it they got medals for finishing last they got participation medals well and science and this is already good we know it devalues the feeling that someone who works hard and comes first and actually makes the person who comes last embarrassed because they know they don't deserve it so it actually makes them feel worse it doesn't really help there are a lot of kids who got into honors classes not because they deserved it but because their parents complained and they got A's nothing because they earned it, but because the teachers didn't want to deal with the parents at the time, those kids graduate without Goodis and start a job on and on an instant they find out they're not special that you don't get anything just because you want it you don't get anything for coming last and your parents can't help you get a promotion and in an instant their entire self-image is completely shattered in one case, the way The way they view themselves has completely changed and what you find is there is an entire generation growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations, remember they have grown up in an Instagram Facebook Snapchat world where they are very, very good at putting filters on everything they are very very good at selecting how they want to be seen and we think they are brimming with confidence they seem to have all the answers they seem to be telling us what to do at the end of the day it just isn't there it just isn't true just not true their confidence is much weaker than before they don't know where they come from they don't know where they are going they are not sure of themselves and lack the courage to ask, d We say things like my door is always open, we assume you have the courage to walk through door number one, then we add technology, there is a chemical in our body called dopamine, dopamine is responsible for the feelings we feel. when we find something we're looking for or accomplish something we set out to achieve you know that great feeling you get when you cross something off your to do list when you win the
gamewhen you hit the target right when the client gets promoted whatever that euphoria is find your clues that euphoria comes from a chemical in our body called dopamine right now other substances other things that release dopamine include alcohol nicotine gambling van that's what makes us feel good when we engage with those things and it's the root Of many addictions, in fact, nearly every alcoholic on the planet discovered alcohol as a teenager.
You see, when we're very, very young, the only approval we need. it is the approval of our parents and then as we move into adolescence we now crave the approval of our peers very frustrating for our parents very important to us allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families into the larger tribe very very important true it's a time of high stress and high anxiety and we're supposed to learn to trust our friends, some people accidentally discover alcohol and the numbing effects of dopamine to help them cope with stress and that becomes fixed and then stops the rest of their lives when they are under some kind of extreme stress they don't turn to a person they turn to the bottle right now we also know that dopamine is released with cell phones and social media so that Bing low but intermittent beeping that we get from our phones it feels so good it releases dopamine we like getting it yeah we all hate all email ctronics, but we love the Bing, right?
We have all been in this position. I'm kind of sorry, maybe I'm feeling a little sad, so what do we do? We send ten text messages to ten friends hello hello hello hello and hope they reply because it feels good now we have a young generation with basically unrestricted access to social media and cell phones we have age restrictions on alcohol we have age restrictions on smoking and we have age restrictions for gambling we have no age restrictions for this other dopamine producing device called social media or cell phones is the equivalent of opening the liquor cabinet andtell our young teens i know this is a stressful time try the vodka will get you through these tough times that's basically what we're doing and so what's happening is it's becoming hardwired where our young generation isn't learning the coping skills and coping mechanisms to turn to another human being when they are struggling or stressed they turn to social media or their cell phones their self esteem sometimes gets thrown up and how many likes make them obsessively check how many likes someone likes, how many likes, and will actually get depressed if they don't get any.
You see them hanging out with their friends, and instead of connecting with their friends, they just sit and talk on the phone. Let me. show you something that is really powerful, can i borrow your phone? Please, there's one right in the middle. Just let me borrow it for a second. I ask you to give me someone else's phone number. You don't have to turn it on. I just need. thank you so let me show you the subconscious power of this device what if i had to hold my phone while giving this presentation? I'm not checking it it's not buzzing it's not ringing I'm just holding it like you're the most important thing to me right now no you're not and this is an artificial environment now think how often this Phone is turned off while we're talking to other people, hey boss, can I talk to you? mind rather than sure of what is on your mind w we go out to dinner or lunch with our family and friends we have meetings and we put the phone on the table that sends a subconscious message to everyone else in the room that this is not so important to me you are not that important to me and by the way turning your phone face down is not more polite this is this is my favorite where the phone rings in the middle of a dinner in the middle of a lunch in the middle of a meeting and someone says I'm not going to answer, oh my gosh, he's so magnanimous, isn't he?
Thank you save it save it because what it does is it actually hurts our ability to relate to each other. Now you look at little kids these days they're with them all the time don't blame them it's addiction we yell and yell at them but we like to yell and yell and an alcoholic doesn't help the fact that it's a chemical addiction so that you take an insecure generation now through no fault of their own struggling to cope with stress who don't know how to cope and deal with stress and, as I've been told, many of them will admit that they struggle to form deep and meaningful relationships. a better plan where they really wouldn't know who to talk to if they got depressed and maybe turn to an online support group which is not real, not a human right and we've seen the impact of this. we are starting to see increases in depression this generation we are starting to see an increase in suicides in this generation we are starting to see an increase in accidental deaths due to drug overdoses this generation universities are currently dealing with an epidemic that they have never seen dealt with earlier what are the number of kids taking leaves of absence due to depression right now those are all extreme examples the least extreme and most likely example is someone will go through life but never really end ding joy or fulfillment and everything is fine how is your job that is fine how are your friends you know they are fine but no joints because you just can't because the joy the satisfaction comes from this comes from human interaction we are social animals and we need it and we have it learn to trust in our friends and that ability is a desperate lack, so it adds impatience to the next one, to m often this generation is accused of entitlement and if you have worked with any of them before it sure seems that way but i would say we miss reading tea leaves have no entitlement they are impatient again let's practice empathy how they grew up they grew up in a world of instant gratification you want to buy something you go to amazon it shows up the next day you want to watch a movie you don't look at movie times you just log in and download it when you want to watch it stream it well you want to watch a tv show you don't wait week to week you just finish from seeing the weekend on fac If you want to reach someone, don't leave a message on their machine and wait for hours for them to get the message and call you back, just send them a text and they will call and text you back literally. instantly, heck, if you want to date, you don't even have to say: hey, just swipe right, you're on a date, never learn the skill set of, like, what are you doing right?
You can have four dates a night in other words everything comes instantaneously they have falsely applied the instant gratification model to life fulfillment and career fulfillment they wanted everything instantly the problem is life relationships career it's not destinations as it looks, I found the job I love, that's not how it works, it's not a scavenger. hunting I'm looking for the job that will make it a journey it's like th They are standing at the bottom of a mountain They know exactly what they want They can see the top What they don't see is the mountain I talked to some recent college grads who are at their jobs starter level on a regular basis. and I'll ask them things like how they're doing and they'll say yes, I think I'm going to quit.
I'll ask them why they say I'm not having an impact. here eight months true and this is the problem they see it as destiny i'm not having an impact i hear it all the time but they don't even know what that means impact yes we all want to have an impact what kind of impact what you want to do when how you want contributing to the world is what vision is this is what it is And it has become generic and abstract but the problem is they are going around they are looking for the right they are going to go from one job to another hoping the next one will stick they go from one relationship to another in the hope that the next one will be the love that I've been looking for, they don't know how to ask for help and it makes them feel even worse because they can't find what they're looking for, maybe it's me, so than if an insecure generation that has no coping mechanisms. that he wants it all resolved and resolved now I haven't thought let me text instead let me wait an hour when I'm done having lunch with you and then I'll send my text for example and then we'll get to In the room and most egregious of the four viewing environments, we are now taking this wonderful, intelligent, idealistic, ambitious, hard-working, fine group of people who were dealt a bad hand and placing them in corporate environments that don't care about them as humans.
Actually we are right for some reason our world of work has changed in the last twenty or thirty years we are suffering from the side effect of business theories left over from the 80's and 90's and they are bad for people and they are bad for business let me give you you are an example the concept of shareholder supremacy was a theory proposed in the late 1970s and became popular in the 1980s and 1990s; it is now a standard form today. You talk to any public company and ask them what their priority is and they tell you to maximize shareholder value, really that's like a coach who prioritizes the needs of the fans over the needs of the players how are you going to build a winning team with that model but that's normal nowadays we even perceive it as broken or damaged or wrong or outdated remember the 80's and 90's were boom years with relative peace and a kinder and gentler cold war no one practiced hiding under their desks in the school we are no longer in those times these are no longer boom years these are no longer peaceful times and those models can't work today here's another mass layoffs using someone's livelihood to balance the right books it's so normal in america today in a day that we don't even understand how broken and how harmful they are not only for human beings but also for business, you know mate? ies talk about how they want to build trust in cooperation and then announce a round of layoffs.
Do you know the fastest way to destroy trust and destroy cooperation in a business? Literally in one day, firing people and everyone freaking out. home to say honey i can't support our family anymore because the company didn't meet their arbitrary projections this year and forget about the people who lost their jobs think about the people who kept their jobs because every decision a company makes is a piece and the company cut off the company just communicated to everyone else that this is not a meritocracy we don't care how hard you work or how long you've worked here if we don't hit our numbers and you fall on the wrong side of the scale sheet calculation Sorry, we cannot guarantee employment, in other words, we come to work every day in fear and ask our younger generation to work in environments any of us would put up with. p and i admit i made a mistake, we are constantly being told you have to be vulnerable, leaders are vulnerable, what does that mean?
It doesn't mean you're crying. I'm vulnerable, do you know what vulnerability means? someone feels safe enough to raise their hand and say I don't know what I'm doing you gave me a job and I haven't been trained to do it I need help I made a mistake I messed up something I'm afraid I'm worried about all these things that no one ever I would admit within a company because it puts a goal in your head in case there's another round and so we keep it to ourselves and how can a company run well if no one ever willing to admit they made a mistake they're scared or that they don't know what they're doing and so we've literally created cultures where every day everyone comes to work and they hide lies, they hide lies and fakes and we ask our younger generation to work and succeed and find themselves themselves and build their c confidence and overcome their addiction to technology and build strong relationships at work we are asking to do this and these environments lis qu e we have created we keep telling you you are the future leaders we are the leaders now we are in control what are we doing this is what empathy means if there is a whole generation fighting maybe it's not them it's like you know the only thing i the common factor in all my failed relationships me the same well we just can't get the right act or you know the right performance of our people maybe it's you right it's not a generation it's not they they are not difficult or difficult to understand they are human beings like the rest of us trying to find our way trying to work somewhere where they feel like someone cares about them as human beings by the way that's what we all want in other words it's not even generational it's all of us this it is the practice of empathy that if we are struggling to communicate with someone. was st fighting to help someone be at their natural best im tired of people telling me how to get the best out of my people really thats what you want they are like a towel just wring them out how can i get the most out of them them you know how i help my people be at their natural best we are not asking these questions we are not practicing empathy we have to start practicing empathy and relating to what they may be going through and it will profoundly change the decisions we make Do it will profoundly change the way in which we see the world.
Someone is driving to work. You are driving to work and someone wants to enter your lane. So you wait your turn now let's practice empathy I don't know maybe they've been out of work for six months maybe they had trouble getting the kids to school this morning and now they're late for a very important interview and they just have to get to this interview and t are going to get in our lane or maybe they're just a bastard I don't know but that's the point we don't know we don't know and practicing empathy will say I'll let them in and I'll come to work with a self late true we don't always have to be right we always have to be in charge we don't have to be the ones to succeed it's not about winning or losing and that's where i go to the second point after empathy comes the perspective where it's not about winning or losing in
gametheory there are two types of games there are finite games and there are infinite games and this is how you are going to change your perspective well a finite game is defined as known players, fixed rules and a baseball goal agreed eg we know the rules we all agree to the rules and whoever has the most runs at the end of nine innings is the winner and the game is over no one says if we can just play two more innings i know we can come back no it works that way, the game ends well. that's a finite game then you have an infinite game, infinite games are defined as known and unknown players, the rules can be changed and the goal is to keep the game in play to perpetuate the game when pitting finite player against player finite thesystem is stable baseball is stable just when you pit a baby infinite player against infinite player this system is also stable like the Cold War for example because there can be no winner and loser there are no winners and losers in an infinite game, right?
It does not exist because there are no winners or losers. What ends up happening in infinite competition is that players quit when they run out of will or resources to play, but there are no winners or losers. The problems arise when you pit a finite player against an infinite one. player because if a finite player is playing to win and an infinite player the player must play for the game to keep working well this is what happened to us in vietnam we were playing to win and the vietnamese people were fighting for their lives we were the ones who got stuck in the quagmire this is the soviet union in afghanistan they were trying to beat the mujahideen and the mujahideen would fight as long as it takes quagmire now let's look at business the game of business has pre-existed or existed long before every company that exists on this planet today and will outlive every living business that exists on this planet today, there is no way to win the game of business and the reason is that we have not agreed on the rules.
I love this. You realize how many companies don't really know the game. they are correct listen to the language of the companies they use we are trying to beat our competition we are trying to be number one did you know we were ranked number one look at the list based on pr revenue criteria of their market share square feet number of employees based on time period one quarter a year five years ten years 20 years 50 years 100 years i have not accepted those standards how you can declare yourself a winner how you can declare yourself number one where no one else in the game has accepted the rules it is arbitrary you don't win because there is no end in other words companies are playing finite games listen to their language they are trying to beat their competition what does that mean that it is the leaders and companies that understand the game they are in and organize their resources and its decision making around the infinite competition that outlives and frustrates its competition all the companies that we have referred to as the s exceptions Southwest Airlines Apple Harley-Davidson computers they are the exception no they are playing the infinite contest they frustrate their competition that's what happens that's what happens because they play to win Jim Senegal t Costco founder, which is the only real company that gives Walmart a run for its money.
He says that public companies are looking to succeed in the quarter. He says we're looking at the next 50 years. You can hear it. He is playing the infinite quiz. I spoke at a Leadership Summit for Microsoft I also spoke at a Leadership Summit for Apple now at the Microsoft summit I would say 70% of executives and this was back in the Steve Ballmer days I would say about 70% of executives spend about 70% of their presentations talking about how to beat Apple at Apple Summit 100 percent of executives spent 100 percent of their presentations talking about how to help teachers teach and how to help students learn one he was obsessed with his competition the other was obsessed with where they're going so at the end of my presentation at Microsoft they gave me a present they gave me the new Zune which was the competitor to the iPod touch when it was kind of right and I have to tell you this piece of technology was spectacular it was beautiful the user interface was incredible the design was amazing it was intuitive it was one of the most beautiful and elegant pieces of technology I have ever seen in this At the moment they didn't work with iTunes which is a completely different problem.
I couldn't use it, but that's something else. I'm sitting in the back of a cab with a senior Apple executive, sort of employee number 12, and I decide to stir the pot and I converted it. Say you know I spoke at a Microsoft summit and they gave me their new Zune and I have to tell you it's so much better than your iPod touch and he turned to me and said I have no doubt the conversation is over because infinite player it's not I'm not playing to be number one every day with every product they're playing to outperform the competition if I had said to Microsoft oh I got the new iPod touch it's so much better than their new Zune can we see it what? it does as we have to see it because one is obsessed with their competition, the other is obsessed with why they do what they do, the other is obsessed with where they are going and the reason Apple frustrates their competition is because, secretly, they're not even competing against them, they're competing against them. themselves and understand that sometimes you're a little ahead and sometimes you're a little behind and sometimes your product is better and sometimes it's not, but if you wake up every morning and compete against yourself, how do I do it? our products better than yesterday how I care for our customers better than yesterday how we advance our cause more efficiently more productively than yesterday how we find new solutions to advance our calling our cause our purpose our belief that's why every day what you'll find is that over time you'll probably be ahead more often those who play the infinite game understand that it's not about battle, it's about war and war.
They don't play to win every day and frustrate their competition until the competition exits the game every bankruptcy almost every merger and acquisition is basically a company saying we no longer have the will or resources to continue playing and we have no option to leave the game or merge our resources with another player so we can stay in the game thats what it is and you can think about the amount of bankruptcies and mergers and acquisitions its kind of e proof that most companies don't even know the game they're in. You want to be a great leader.
Start with empathy. You want to be a great leader. Change your perspective and play the game you're really playing. Thank you very much.
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