Category Archives: #Inspiration
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.
Many people look down on motivational speakers, books and other media because they feel it’s “snake oil” or “all fluff”.
These critics want “meat on the bone”, practical “nuts and bolts” to put in play and make an impact.
One who hears the critique of these folks will think that motivational speaking has no place in someone’s professional or personal life.
Honestly, there are generally two camps of people who attend, read and/or listen to what other people have to say. Those who are looking for the actionable steps, and others who are looking for a mindset change.
Motivational speaking primarily is helping others get people to think and believe in themselves. In this age where the loneliness epidemic is being identified, and the news and politicians spreading negativity, and the reality of bad breaks in life, people need hope. And great leaders instill hope.
One of the ironies in today’s speaking is the impact of storytelling. We have come to realize the framing of a message with a parallel story to underline it is a proven method for people to have takeaway actions. Yet isn’t that what motivational speakers do?
Some people are moving forward, motivated and have the right mindset to succeed. They want the “meat on the bone”. Others need that first rung of the ladder, that lift up out of their current failing mindset and believing in themselves to make those first steps towards lasting change.
There is a place for both motivation and strategic advice. It all depends on what that individual needs at that time.
Yes, some motivational speakers are snake oil salespeople. But so are some so-called experts who provide impractical business advice for being an entrepreneur, creating a real estate business or how to make a fortune on SnapChat.
As with anything, we should judge anything based on the merits of the overall good someone creates for others and not the fringe people that dilute the call, or the recipient’s inability to heed that advice.
And especially not our bias because we don’t think it will work for us.