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This video was amazing. As a millennial, it was as though he was speaking directly to me and will help me be a better leader.
The first thing that struck me is when he said, “Leaders are not in charge, leaders are responsible for the people in the charge, Wow. I started looking back at all my Jobs and the leaders I had. I looked at myself as well to gain some perspective. That is such a powerful statement because, as a leader, until you understand that aspect of your job, it is virtually impossible for you to have empathy and you absolutely need empathy in order for you to lead. All we have to do is to look at what is going on right now, and look at the reactions from our elected officials, and business leaders. They are mum for the most part.
Secondly, he went on to talk about parenting and millennials. My parents tells me all the time you’re entitled, we spoiled you and you need to figure it out. According to Mr. Sinek, it’s not entitlement that is the problem it’s impatience. We are impatient as millennial because of the society that we grew up in. He gave examples like giving medals for coming last. I definitely remember that. We have low self-esteem now, because when we get out there on the job market we are expecting things to be given to us and it’s a wake-up call when we don’t get it, we become depressed. He talked about how technology triggers dopamine in our bodies and give us this feeling of enjoyment. We use our phones to separate us from the rest of the world. As leaders, we have to be able to separate that stuff. You can’t show up to a staff meeting with your phone. I see it all the time, and I do it myself. Of course, now, I will be more conscious of doing so now but this is the world in which we live. Our friendship, he says are superficial. It’s not about the journey for us these days and it should be. It is about the now because we are so impatient and insecure. That is something we can all work on but we have good leadership with empathy to accomplish this. Scholars like Rahman and his colleague. They stated that “in research on transformational leadership, low job turnover, leadership effectiveness and individual advancement were related to leaders who had a high degree of empathy, openness and communication” (Rahman & Castelli, 2013).
Finally, what was striking to me also, was that he talked about maximizing shareholder value, and the corporate business environment being leftovers from the 80s in the 90s. That is crazy to me because, when I was doing my undergraduate degree that is what they taught us. I was taught that businesses are there to make money and maximizing shareholder’s profit, so whatever it takes to do that they do it. Whether it’s mass layoff or anything else business is not a meritocracy, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been there. As a millennial doesn’t matter anyway because our natural instinct is to move on. When something happens for example, we don’t feel valued because we’re making enough money or we don’t feel like we’re making an impact we leave. Even if we’ve only just started. The problem, he said, is that it’s not the millennials, it is the leaders. We need to change and practice empathy. Find out how your workers are doing. I, for example, have an awesome Director. She walks by my office every day and she finds out how I’m because she wants me to be my best self. I think Simon is right, that we need to stop thinking that things are about winning and losing. There are no rules in business so leaders need to start competing against themselves and play the long game. He closed with this and I thought it was awesome. “To be a great leader you have to change your perspective”. I am trying to change mine. This was an awesome video. I shall listen a couple more times for sure.
Rahman, W. A., & Castelli, P. A. (2013, September). The Impact of empathy on leadership effectiveness among business leaders in the United States and Malaysia. International Journal of Economics Business and Management Studies -, 2(3), 83-97. Retrieved June 18, 2020
After watching this presentation by Simon Sinek, the takeaways seem to be almost endless. A few things that stood out and resonated with me personally in my career are the principle of managers versus leaders, the need for empathy as a leader, and the harm of technology on our relationships.
I have noticed a glaring issue in my own professional development and it was something that Simon Sinek highlighted as well. It is that people in leadership positions are not taught how to lead. Instead, they are promoted to that position because of their success in their job, but they then move from having responsibility for a job to having responsibility for people (Sinek, 2016). I have seen this in my own workplace where my boss has sound technical skills but really struggles to do the basics from a leadership and mentorship perspective. He is either extremely hands-off because he does not know what to do, or he micromanages every element of a project.
As someone in leadership myself, something I have tried to embody is empathy. Simon Sinek described empathy as being “concerned about the human being and not just the output” (2016). I can recall a scenario just this week where I had a member of my team that has consistently been underperforming not only with her output, but also with the inputs. I could see she was worn out, disappointed, and had lost all hope. Because I could relate to her and the feeling of failure, I sought to care for the person instead of the position. This is a trait I have seen embodied all around me, and I believe because of it I have been able to embrace the virtue myself.
Lastly, I completely recognize the harm that social media and cell phones are having on my generation. I spend half of my week in meetings each week whether it be with staff or with donors for our organization. I admittedly find myself in meetings where when my phone vibrates in my pocket I lose all focus on the conversation. I feel such a desire to check the email or text that I cannot be present to the person right in front of me. This video has pushed me to reevaluate my dependency on technology and the places where I let it get in the way of real relationships.
Reflecting on this video, I do believe that it does challenge me to be a better leader. Just as a leader should do with those around them, it affirmed me in places where I see my strengths, but it also has challenged me and presented me with opportunities to continue to grow. Two things that I will take with me to work tomorrow will be to make it a daily habit to ask people how they are doing, how I can help them do a better job, and also to leave my phone in the other room during meetings so I can be more present to others.
Sinek, S (2016, November 2). Most leaders don’t even know the game they’re in: Simon Sinek at Live2Lead [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/RyTQ5-SQYTo