How to be an inspiring leader

Leadership is about taking care of your people first. Leadership is about taking care of the people who take care of your customers.

Leaders make you feel safe. Leaders inspire action. Leaders establish environments of trust and cooperation. Leaders eat last.

I include a lot of video content below. Let me know if you like it!

How to be an inspiring leader

Leadership is about taking care of your people first.

Leadership is about taking care of the people who take care of your customers.

Leadership is not management. I have never woken up in the morning and said to myself, “I want to be managed today.” I wake up in the morning and want to walk alongside visionary thinkers who preach this future place we’re all walking towards together.

Leadership is a sophisticated skill that can be learned. Unfortunately, it is rarely taught.

Leadership is about making your people feel safe enough to offer ideas without fear of getting in trouble or losing their job, they feel loyal, they feel appreciated, and they put their blood, sweat, and tears into working on the team. The more accountability we offer people, the more those people rise to the occasion.

Leadership is about creating an environment of obsessive truth. If the leader spins things, lies, and does not speak transparent truth then it naturally reflects onto the rest of the organization.

If we fear our behavior may get us in trouble in our company than we inherently feel paranoia, greed, anxiety, and can not perform basic duties.

Humans have a biological reaction to this type of environment which causes them to not put the organization first. They don’t put their colleagues first and they definitely don’t put their leaders first. Such employees “lookout for themselves”, and always have one foot in the door and one foot out the door.

This is evidence of a leaderless company of competitive employees battling it out for survival of the fittest.

How might we lead with more intention?

Start here…

It begins with your thesis.

  • How do you see the world?
  • How do you think the world sees you?
  • How does the world actually see you?
  • How do you show that you care about your employees?
  • How do you show that you care about your customers?

Answers to the above questions will naturally lead to the discovery of values. Leading by example is how a founder reflects her values into the culture of the organization.

This video is from Harvard Business Review and I have to say they do a great job breaking down their research. It is a short, concise video. Well worth the watch. It doesn’t seem to let me embed the video, but I include the link at the bottom of this post if you have trouble with the embed.

Inspiring leadership thoughts by Simon Sinek

If you want something to read after the videos there is a quick read on Inc magazine’s blog about the three most important traits of leaders as prioritized by Simon Sinek. Here’s a quote,

Stress and anxiety are enough to make people dishonest and to sabotage their performance at work. When your body is flooded with cortisol, or the chemical that produces anxiety, “you biologically restrict empathy and trust,” Sinek said. Don’t be that kind of boss–if you’re the one inducing fear and anxiety in your employees, you’re never going to have their trust. The solution is clear: Work on managing your own stress and “be the leader you wish you had,” he said. Your team will appreciate it.

The next video is part of Simon’s series the evolved after his TED talk on the Golden Circle (second video in this post, “How great leaders inspire action”).

The next video is Simon’s break-out TED talk that has nearly 40 million views today.

The next video is a bit longer, but it is with Simon speaking to audience of designers about their roles in society. The power of designers when they can turn the vision of great leaders into objects and artifacts that can lead tribes and nations of people is something I strive towards.

This next video was just posted to Gary Vee’s YouTube channel. He teams up with Simon Sinek to discuss how to be an inspiring leader. I have been waiting for a new video appearance from Simon so I was pretty psyched to come across this tonight. High definition video interview. Find the highlight real of stellar quotes listed below.

21st century innovators, Simon Sinek and Gary Vee, dropping knowledge

This first snippet below was Simon’s closing question for the audience at the end of the video. After this quote I loop us back to the front of the video. I just thought it was important enough for you to see before you glance over this post.

Do you feel loved and supported by the people around you? Do you feel the cultures in which you work or the ones you’re building are ones of cooperation and of trust? Or, do you feel like you have to keep your guard up the whole time and can’t really trust anybody and you definitely can’t trust your boss.

If you have a moment, answer Simon’s question to help him continue creating some of the most valuable content on the internet about leadership and building organizations that last.

How leaders inspire action

Gary highlights Simon’s first book which accompanies his world-famous breakout TED Talk when he pitched a theory he’d been working on which talks about a simple model for being an inspirational leader. The talk is titled, How leaders inspire action. The TED Talk has nearly 30 million views. Watch it below (don’t get too distracted, though. This isn’t the video with Simon and Gary.

Leaders Eat Last

Gary gives Simon another shout out for his second book, Leaders Eat Last. It’s a book about how leaders build trust and cooperation within an organization. In short, this book is about leaders who work hard to create an environment which fosters a safe, nurturing feeling for employees. By removing the competitive nature of typical workplace drama and politics and creating a culture of sharing, caring, and trust it empowers employees to reach their potential. It’s amazing what people can do when they aren’t concerned that their coworker or boss is constantly looking for things wrong with an employee’s performance.

Together is Better

The newest book is called Together is Better. It’s about three characters who are bullied by another character. The three become dissatisfied with their environment because of the bully. They imagine having a different job, starting a business, going somewhere else – and who has the courage to do that? So I wanted this story to inspire readers by showing them how these three characters are able to follow their dreams because they learned how to help each other. -Simon

Great question came from a viewer: “Can the employee’s “why” and the employer’s “why” co-exist and go together?” Simon says, yes, definitely, but only as long as the “why’s” are compatible. If you’re thinking of working for a new employer you should find out the company’s “why” first otherwise you make decisions based on money and benefits and the value of those things are not timeless. -Simon

Your “why” is biologically formed in us around the time we turn 17-20 years old. The rest of our live is an opportunity for us to start pursuing the why. More often than not, it takes some type of tragedy or transformational event for us to identify our “why” with confidence and begin chasing it. -Simon

The better you are at communicating your “why”, the more likely you are to attract the right people to you, your idea, and your organization regardless of the opportunity you afford them. If you can’t talk about the vision in hard terms yet, can you find any personal stories that will help people understand and visualize what you see? -Simon

An exercise we do with our team is called “Give and Take”. I ask potential employees what they have to give me and what they want to take from me. They usually tell me something awesome that I know I need and it makes me psyched, but then when I ask them what they want to take from me they are unable to answer. I won’t end up engaging with these people on a professional level because if that person does not have a clear indication of what they want from me, our organization, and the experience then it will become an issue down the road. These situations end with the employee being unhappy about pay or benefits etc.

Another question from a viewer was about whether self-awareness is learnable or if we acquire it with age and wisdom: Self-awareness is a practicable and learnable skill like any other. We don’t really know how we’re being perceived. We think we know how we’re perceived, but we actually are not as accurate as we think. The big thing about becoming self-aware is being open to the harsh critique from the people closest to you. If you are defensive through those moments of feedback is an obvious sign that you are not practicing becoming self-aware. -Simon

The most successful method I have used for tapping into the feedback loop for increasing self-awareness is creating a safe space for our people so that they are comfortable as possible

Nelson Mandela is universally regarded great leader. He was the son of a tribal chief. During an interview, Nelson was asked how he learned to be such a great leader. Nelson said he used to go to tribal meetings with his father. He learned from his father that the team should always sit in a circle, and the leader should always speak last. -Simon

Leaders say “here’s the problem…I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are on how we might tackle the problem.” This takes practice for most. Leaders won’t even give an indication of whether they agree or disagree with what’s being said because the most important thing to the leader is that the team members get to voice their opinion and feel heard. -Simon

Leaders build trust and cooperation within an organization. Leaders work hard to create an environment to foster a safe, nurturing feeling for employees. By removing the competitive nature of typical workplace drama and politics and creating a culture of sharing, caring, and trust it empowers employees to reach their potential. It’s amazing what people can do when they aren’t concerned that their coworker or boss is constantly looking for things wrong with an employee’s performance.

Leaders practice being the last person to speak. Leaders understand that it’s not as important for them to voice their opinion on the specific issue at hand. Leaders ask questions to all participants involved in the conversation. Leaders give their team reasonable opportunity to feel heard. -Simon

As leaders get ready to start hiring the first people to join their project or startup or tribe, Gary says to look first on social to see who has been out there interacting and engaging with your content so far. These early engagers can be critical evangelists in building the core of your tribe from ground zero. These people are engaging and marketing your company on their own time for no reason other than the fact that they dig what you’re doing. Gary warnings us that it might not always work, but from his experience it was through sourcing his initial team via social is how he grew Wine Library and continues to see exponential growth. -Gary

You can’t hide who you are anymore. Everyone always finds out. You will win when you decide to go all in. Once I stopped hiding the little things about himself and he was able to be who I actually was, my businesses took off. If the people who know you the best, like you the most, then you win. -Gary

Authenticity is saying and doing the things you believe. The more authentic you are in your work, the more your people will be inspired to champion your work. -Simon

America lets you get away with anything…as long as you don’t try to pull something over on us. -Gary

The whole thing is a process. Start talking about your work immediately. It takes a very long time. Go watch early interviews of Steve Jobs. He says on camera one time that he’s about to throw up because he’s so nervous. Start now. Practice out loud. The idea of hiding until it’s perfect is a fool’s game. Practice out loud. Get feedback. Grow. Put it out there.

Talking to the world about what you believe is the way. Don’t come out of the gate at 22 and tell me you know everything and you’re going to charge me xyz for these tiers. This is a non-winning game and attracts the wrong people to you. You might get a few dollars from it but you are not winning. -Gary

There are so many people who wait for the perfect time and then don’t end up doing anything, but if you say, “Hey, I’m fascinated by this work and if you work with me on it I will give you everything I have.” You have so much more to learn and everyone knows that. Your humility is unbelievably attractive and people want to be apart of that because people know you’re showing up to learn and continuously improve. -Simon

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This was a great interview. Hope you enjoyed it. A lot of nuggets of wisdom from both of these amazing innovators of the 21st century.

Check out Gary’s YouTube Channel for more videos like this one.

Here is that video from HBR on Level 5 Leadership

by Daniel D'Alonzo

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