Sacrifice Self Or Employees?
Back in 2014 Simon Sinek gave a TED Talk about how good leaders make others feel safe.
Using a real life story from a military officer sacrificing his life to save others, and paralleling the parental duty of sacrificing for the nurturing of one’s children, Sinek outlined how these examples don’t reflect the current mindset of most business leaders.
And, unfortunately five years later, this still remains true.
Take as a prime example the fiasco at WeWork and SoftBank’s handling of the startup’s fall from grace.
In the last couple of months, the workshare company went from a potentially highly valued IPO to tumbling to a fraction of their value and being run by main investor SoftBank. They removed founder and CEO Adam Neumann who effectively ran the company into the ground and bought him out for a $1.7 billion golden parachute.
That was October. Last week, just about 4 weeks after, 2400 WeWork employees were notified that they were being laid off. As one would guess, many employees are outraged about Neumann getting off free while others have to suffer for his financial improprieties and erratic behavior.
This example shows the pervasive business mindset of sacrificing employees for the sake of a leader’s own self, or company stock price, or profits. All the things that Simon Sinek outlined in his talk that good leaders do NOT do.
This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them.
Sinek also told the story of a company back in the great recession of 2008 that was faced with a 30% loss of sales during 2008 and their labor needed to be cut by millions of dollars. When the board asked for layoffs, the CEO refused and instead gave every employee (including himself) 4 weeks of compulsory unpaid leave to be taken any time they chose over the year. He told the employees it was better for everyone to suffer a little, rather than a few suffer a lot. They saved $20 million, and morale greatly improved. As the leader instilled a sense of trust in the culture, some employees started trading leave – taking 5 so another would take only 3.
This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them. And people only trust their leaders when they know that their leader will take the risk themselves, and first.
When leaders do this, the natural response of people is to trust in return and to likewise sacrifice for the good of the leader’s vision. Because their leader would have done the same for them.
Great leaders find a way to sacrifice for their people, even if it hurts.