Simon Sinek: Leadership and being a Leader

roman asbill
23 Jun 201714:13

Summary

TLDRThis script emphasizes the importance of leadership through the lens of human behavior and motivation. It argues that true leadership is about inspiring followership, not authority or rank. The speaker advocates for a clear vision, purpose, and the creation of a supportive, family-like work environment where employees feel valued and protected. The script also highlights the significance of metrics as a means to measure progress towards a shared goal, not just as an end in themselves. It concludes with the idea that by fostering a culture of care and accountability, leaders can inspire innovation, loyalty, and long-term success.

Takeaways

  • 😌 Leadership is fundamentally about having followers who voluntarily choose to follow your direction, not about rank or title.
  • 🔄 Human behavior can be influenced by incentives and disincentives, much like a company's performance can be driven by rewards and punishments.
  • 🎯 A true leader must provide a clear vision and purpose for the organization, explaining why the company exists and what it aims to achieve beyond profit.
  • 💡 The importance of metrics in a company is to measure progress towards the vision, not just to track numbers for their own sake.
  • 🤝 Accountability in a human context is not to a number but to a person, highlighting the importance of relationships in a work environment.
  • 👨‍👧‍👦 The workplace should be seen as a family where everyone is given love, support, and a sense of belonging, akin to the care a parent provides to their children.
  • 🙌 The best leaders are servant leaders who prioritize the well-being and growth of their employees, understanding that putting people first leads to long-term success.
  • 🛠️ In times of crisis, innovative solutions like furlough programs can be implemented to avoid layoffs, promoting a sense of shared responsibility and cooperation.
  • 🤔 The value of an employee's work is not just in their output but in their contribution to the team's success and the company's long-term goals.
  • 🌐 The speaker advocates for a shift in focus from short-term growth targets to building a company that can endure for a hundred years, fostering a culture of sustainability.
  • 💌 The importance of personal interaction and investing time and energy in relationships at work, as opposed to relying solely on digital communication.

Q & A

  • What is the essential element of being a leader according to the transcript?

    -The essential element of being a leader is having followers who choose to voluntarily follow the direction set by the leader, rather than being forced or incentivized through external means.

  • How does the transcript compare human beings to a company in terms of motivation?

    -The transcript compares human beings to a company by stating that both are motivated by incentives and disincentives. Just as companies are given bonuses for hitting targets, humans are driven by chemically produced feelings like love, trust, and joy.

  • What role does a clear vision play in leadership according to the speaker?

    -A clear vision is crucial in leadership as it provides a purpose for the company's existence beyond just making money or producing goods. It helps people understand why they are doing what they are doing and gives them a sense of direction and belonging.

  • What does the speaker suggest is the purpose of metrics in a company?

    -The speaker suggests that the purpose of metrics is to measure progress towards the company's vision. Each metric should indicate that the company is getting closer to its goals, providing a sense of fulfillment and motivation.

  • How does the speaker define accountability in the context of leadership?

    -Accountability, according to the speaker, is not to a number but to a person. It's about feeling responsible to someone who is supposed to look after us, which is crucial for a sense of fulfillment and commitment.

  • What is the concept of a 'servant leader' as described in the transcript?

    -A 'servant leader' is someone who gives selflessly to those in their organization, offering protection and support. They are focused on helping their team members achieve more than they could have imagined, prioritizing people over numbers.

  • What example does the speaker provide to illustrate the importance of putting people first?

    -The speaker cites Bob Chapman, the CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, who, instead of laying off employees during a financial crisis, implemented a furlough program where everyone took unpaid time off, ensuring that all employees shared the burden.

  • How does the speaker relate the concept of family to the workplace?

    -The speaker relates the concept of family to the workplace by suggesting that a company is like a family, with leaders acting as parents. They should provide undying love, support, and a sense of safety, just as parents would for their children.

  • What is the significance of the 'I have a dream' speech by Martin Luther King in the context of the transcript?

    -The 'I have a dream' speech is used as an example of how a leader can put a vision into words, making it visible and understandable to others, and rallying people around a common goal.

  • What advice does the speaker give regarding the hiring process in a company?

    -The speaker advises treating hiring like adopting a child, where the focus is on finding someone who fits the company culture and will be given the opportunity to contribute and grow within the organization.

  • What is the speaker's vision for the future of work?

    -The speaker's vision is a world where the majority of people are inspired to go to work and come home fulfilled by their jobs. They believe that loving one's job is a right, not a privilege, and that a supportive and caring work culture can help achieve this.

Outlines

00:00

😀 The Essence of Leadership and Followership

This paragraph discusses the fundamental aspect of leadership, which is the ability to attract followers. It emphasizes that leadership is not about rank or title, but about inspiring others to voluntarily follow the direction set by the leader. The human being is compared to a company, where incentives and disincentives are used to drive behavior. The speaker talks about the importance of a clear vision for a company, the purpose beyond making money, and how leaders must articulate this vision to inspire followers. The concept of metrics as a means to measure progress towards the vision is also explained, highlighting that the ultimate goal is not just the numbers but the fulfillment that comes from working towards a shared vision.

05:00

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Leadership as Servanthood in the Workplace

The second paragraph draws a parallel between parenting and leadership in a company. It suggests that leaders should provide the same undying love and support to their employees as parents do to their children. The leader's role is to ensure that employees can achieve more than the leader could have imagined. The concept of a 'servant leader' is introduced, where the leader serves the employees, prioritizing their well-being over numbers. The story of Bob Chapman and his company, Barry-Wehmiller, is shared as an example of a leader who prioritizes people over profits, even during a financial crisis. The importance of cooperation and mutual support is highlighted, using the Marine Corps' training philosophy as an example. The paragraph concludes with the proverb 'go fast go alone, go far go together,' emphasizing the long-term success of a company that values its people.

10:01

💼 Building a Lasting Company Culture

The final paragraph focuses on the goal of building a company that lasts for generations. It encourages leaders to shift their focus from short-term financial gains to creating a lasting legacy. The speaker criticizes the common practice of treating employees as disposable and instead advocates for a culture of continuous support and opportunity. The hiring process is compared to adopting a child, where careful consideration is given to ensure a good fit within the company culture. The importance of personal interactions and investing time and energy in relationships is stressed, as it fosters a stronger bond and sense of belonging among employees. The speaker imagines a world where people are inspired to go to work and feel fulfilled by their contributions. The talk concludes with a call to action for leaders to build cultures that prioritize people, which is beneficial for innovation, progress, and profit.

Mindmap

Keywords

💡Leadership

Leadership in the context of this video is defined by the ability to inspire and gain voluntary commitment from others, rather than through coercion or authority. It emphasizes the importance of followership as the true measure of a leader's effectiveness. The script discusses how a leader must provide a clear vision and purpose, which motivates others to follow willingly, as illustrated by the story of a leader who inspires their team with a sense of purpose and belonging.

💡Followers

Followers are individuals who choose to support and align with a leader's vision and direction. The script highlights that a leader's success is directly tied to their ability to attract and maintain followers who believe in the leader's vision. It contrasts forced compliance with voluntary commitment, suggesting that true leadership emerges when followers raise their hands in agreement to go in the direction set by the leader.

💡Purpose

Purpose is the underlying reason or goal that gives meaning to an organization's or individual's actions. The script argues that a company must have a purpose beyond profit, which is essential for inspiring commitment and loyalty from its employees. It uses the example of a company's growth, questioning not just the 'how' but the 'why,' and emphasizing the need for a clear and communicated vision that resonates with the team.

💡Metrics

Metrics in this video are presented as tools to measure progress towards a vision. They are not ends in themselves but indicators of movement in the right direction. The script criticizes the focus on numbers for their own sake and instead advocates for metrics that reflect progress towards a meaningful goal, providing the example of a dopamine-like reward for each achievement that brings the team closer to the vision.

💡Accountability

Accountability in the video is portrayed as a personal commitment to a person or a cause, rather than to a number or target. It is the feeling of responsibility and obligation that one feels towards another person, which drives performance and integrity. The script uses the example of missing a work goal and the associated feelings of letting down a loved one or a mentor, rather than just failing to meet a number.

💡Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership is a leadership philosophy where the leader prioritizes the needs of their team members over their own. The script describes this concept through the actions of a CEO who values his employees' well-being above short-term financial gains, illustrating how servant leaders provide support, safety, and opportunities for their team to achieve more than they could individually.

💡Fulfillment

Fulfillment in the video refers to the sense of satisfaction and meaning that individuals derive from their work. It is linked to the idea that people want to feel that their contributions are valuable and necessary. The script suggests that when employees feel fulfilled and necessary, they are more likely to give their best, as exemplified by the story of Marines who endure hardship together, prioritizing collective success over individual ease.

💡Cooperation

Cooperation is the act of working together towards a common goal. The video script discusses human beings' biological predisposition to cooperate and support each other, using the example of a company that, during a crisis, chose a collective furlough program over layoffs, demonstrating the power of cooperation in facing challenges.

💡Innovation

Innovation in the context of this video is the process of creating new ideas, products, or services that are valuable and feasible. The script implies that a culture that fosters love for work, safety, and fulfillment can lead to greater innovation, as employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to their tasks, contributing to the company's long-term success.

💡Relationships

Relationships in the video are the interpersonal connections that form the foundation of a strong and supportive work culture. The script emphasizes the importance of investing time and energy into building these relationships, suggesting that face-to-face interactions and personal connections are more impactful than digital communications, as they convey genuine care and commitment.

💡Culture

Culture in this video represents the shared values, beliefs, and practices that shape the work environment and employee behavior. The script argues that a positive and supportive culture is crucial for creating a workplace where people love to work and are motivated to contribute their best. It suggests that the quality of a company's culture is revealed during challenging times, not just in good times.

Highlights

Leadership is fundamentally about having followers who choose to follow your direction.

Leadership is not about rank or title, but about inspiring voluntary commitment from others.

Incentives and disincentives are used to influence behavior, both in organizations and individuals.

Chemically produced feelings like love, trust, and joy serve as incentives for human behavior.

A clear vision is essential for a leader to guide and motivate their team.

The purpose of a company should extend beyond profit to offer value and create a lasting impact.

Metrics are tools to measure progress towards a vision, not just about the numbers.

Accountability in a team is to people, not to numbers or targets.

Leaders must provide a sense of belonging, safety, and protection, akin to a family.

Servant leadership involves prioritizing the well-being and growth of team members.

Bob Chapman's approach at Barry-Wehmiller demonstrates the success of prioritizing people over numbers.

In times of crisis, shared sacrifice can foster unity and cooperation within a company.

The Marine Corps emphasizes collective success and mutual support, highlighting the importance of 'we' over 'I'.

Long-term company success is more about building a lasting culture than just rapid growth.

Hiring should be approached with the same care and consideration as adopting a child into a family.

In difficult times, the quality of a team is judged by how they handle challenges, not calm seas.

Fostering personal relationships and face-to-face communication builds stronger workplace connections.

Investing time and energy into people is essential for mutual respect and fulfillment.

Loving one's job is a right, not a privilege, and should be an entitlement for all employees.

Cultural improvement and employee satisfaction lead to innovation, progress, and profit.

Transcripts

play00:04

to be a leader requires one thing and

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one thing only followers that's it it

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has nothing to do nothing to do with the

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rank or title it has to do with whether

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others are going to choose the volunteer

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raise their hands and volunteer to go in

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the direction that you set we can force

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people to do things we can whip them

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into shape or offer them all kinds of

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carrots and sticks to get them to do

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things but the end of the day a true

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leader is the one where others raised

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their hand and says and say I will

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follow you the question is why should

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anyone follow you now the human animal

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is like a company if we want to get

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certain behaviors out of the

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organization out of people we give them

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certain incentives or disincentives we

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are exactly the same if you want someone

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to perform if you want them to hit a

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goal we set the target we set the goal

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we offer them some sort of bonus if they

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get there and we incentivize the

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behavior if we threaten someone with a

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punishment we disincentivize the

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behavior wait till your father comes

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home you know anyone who's a parent with

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gold stars or bonuses or all kinds of

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things we're used to this this is normal

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the human body works exactly the same

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way if you've ever had a feeling of love

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trust joy fulfillment status pride those

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are all chemically produced feelings

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they're chemically produced incentives

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trying to get us the human bodies trying

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to get us to do certain things to get us

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to cooperate tangible matters we can

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only we can only see the things we have

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words for right and this is why the

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leader must provide a clear vision why

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are we doing this why are we in business

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in the first place what is the point of

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growing the company that you're growing

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everybody talks of what's your growth

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what's the point of the growth in other

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words you have a company why do you have

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that company what is the value your

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company is offering to others and and

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what what do you want your company to

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leave behind when you're gone there has

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to be a purpose for why your company

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exists beyond the things you make beyond

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the things you do beyond the money you

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make you had the purpose when you

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founded the company otherwise you

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wouldn't have taken the crazy risk to

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start

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with the overwhelming chance of failure

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and people wouldn't have given you blood

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sweat and tears if they didn't believe

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in you

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because you were the Alpha you had the

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vision you had the strength and they

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wanted your protection and they joined

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you and I gave you their blood sweat and

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tears because you gave them a sense of

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purpose and belonging and protection you

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have to know why you do what you do and

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this is what the leaders do and the more

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they can put it into words the clearer

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they can put it into the word the more

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we can see it again we can only see the

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things we have words for and so when you

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can put these things into words other

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people can see them I have a dream

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Martin Luther King put into words the

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vision seeing he had the rest of us

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could see it too and now could focus all

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of our attention all of our efforts on

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getting it done and every metric and

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this is the purpose of metrics every

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metric we use is to is it's not about

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the metric metrics are supposed to

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measure progress in other words each

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metric is the tree getting a little

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bigger each each metric is us getting a

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little closer to the gazelle we get

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another little shot of dopamine each

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metric shows us that we're getting

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closer to the vision it's not just about

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the numbers at the end of the year how

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do we do we're up good towards what

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towards what we don't know what we're

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getting closer to and it makes work

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unfulfilled don't know what we're

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working towards dopamine we don't care

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if we let down the goal like if we have

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a goal that we have to achieve for work

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and we miss the goal do we feel bad that

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we let the numbers down no we feel bad

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that we let somebody we love down we

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feel bad that we let down our boss we

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let down our parents we let down our

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coach we let down our drill instructor

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we feel bad and we let down as human

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being accountability is never to a

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number accountability is to a person and

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if there is no relationship with the

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person who's supposed to look after us

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on a postman we're supposed to be

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working for then we don't feel

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accountable and this is where leadership

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becomes really really important you see

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when we give selflessly to those in our

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tribe offering them protection because

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that's all anybody wants at work they

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want to feel safe comfortable protected

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think about it as a parent you know back

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in those days there were no countries

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they were

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corporations there were no companies

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they didn't exist there's only one thing

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that pre-existed all of those things the

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family that's all we had each other

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think about it what do we say to our

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children you don't get to choose your

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children some of them are funny-looking

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some of them not that smart okay those

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the kids you got sorry you get to pick

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your employees we don't get to pick your

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children and yet it doesn't matter who

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your kids are whether they're the best

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looking or not whether the smartest or

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not whether they're strongest or not you

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give them undying love and you don't

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point out their weaknesses if you're a

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good parent you point out their

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strengths if you're a good parent you

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encourage them to do the things that

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they're good at and you hold them up and

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sometimes you let them fail and learn

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for themselves and sometimes you

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discipline them and sometimes you prop

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them up and sometimes you push them and

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sometimes you let them go and more than

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anything else all we want for our

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children is to achieve more than we

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could have achieved and we will do that

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by providing them support a feeling of

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safety a feeling of protection well

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guess what it ain't no difference at

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work stop saying our company is like a

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family it is a family and you are the

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mother and you are the father and the

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minute you hire someone you must give

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them undying love and you must work

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tirelessly to see that they can achieve

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more than you could ever have imagined

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yourself achieving those are the best

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leaders that's what it means to be a

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servant leader any company any CEO that

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says to me proudly we put our customers

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first I always say then that means you

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put your employees at least second we

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put people first human beings come first

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not numbers we sacrifice people to save

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the numbers but we don't sacrifice the

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numbers to save the people a little bit

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backwards and yet when we are willing to

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sacrifice the numbers to save people you

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watch what happens to people there's a

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guy by the name of Bob Chapman in st.

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Louis Missouri who runs a company called

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barry-wehmiller so 1.6 billion dollar

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private company with 20% year-over-year

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growth for the past 20 years Warren

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Buffett has 6% what is Bob's secret

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he is obsessed about people he doesn't

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even talk about what his company does it

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happens to be heavy manufacturing large

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capital expenditure machinery when

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kimberly-clark wants to buy a machine to

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make toilet paper they make the machine

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huge huge blue collar you know sort of

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good old-fashioned American

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manufacturing when the when the

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financial crisis hit Bob's company lost

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thirty percent of their revenues off the

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top boom gone they could not afford

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their labor pool at all and so they sat

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down and they said oh my god do we have

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to have layoffs and Bob refused and so

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they implemented a furlough program

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where every employee from CEO to

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secretary had to take four weeks of

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unpaid time off they didn't have to take

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it consecutively and they could take it

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whenever they wanted those who could

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afford it more would trade with those

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who could afford it less it was

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remarkable and Bob told the company it's

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better we should all suffer a little

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that any of us should have to suffer a

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lot as human beings we are biologically

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designed to cooperate and we want to

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help each other when you give someone

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the responsibility when you put them in

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a position of power or authority for

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their responsibilities they rise up why

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because we all want to feel that our

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lives have value we all want to feel

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that our lives and the work that we do

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is valuable to the tribe we all want to

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know that our company needs us but we

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don't make people feel need as needed

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and we don't make their work feel

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necessary because we take all the

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responsibility we don't let them have it

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and when people feel fulfilled when we

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make them feel necessary they feel proud

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because something got done because they

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were a part of it they will give more

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and more and more and more people in the

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Marine Corps are willing to give their

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lives for people they barely know

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because they've learned to trust each

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other when you show up at Parris Island

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or in San Diego for the first day of

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boot camp and you're standing there the

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yellow footprints the drill instructor

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will yell in your face this far away

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from you the first word they hear the

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words I me my are no longer in your

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vocabulary they will be replaced with we

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together and us they are taught that

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success does not come by yourself it

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only comes in a group

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there's an old African proverb to go

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fast go alone to go far go together

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we're all talking about how quickly

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we're growing our companies but how long

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will your company last 80% of the Dow

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index are 35 years or younger sure we

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build fast growing companies but they

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don't last I watched it I watched I went

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to the crucible and watched these

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Marines the crucible is their final test

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before they become Marines they're out

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for 56 hours they get three meals a

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total of eight hours sleep the entire

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time they're exhausted they're tired

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they're dirty they're working hard and

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you watch a fire squad of four guys

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making their way under barbed wire and

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shots fired and all of this mayhem ins

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dirt and sand and it's crazy and they're

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dragging themselves across the dirt and

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one of the guys is tired and starts

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falling back but they have to achieve

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the mission they've got to get to the

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other side but what do they do they stop

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they go back they grab his webbing and

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they pull they slowed themselves down

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because they'd rather slow down with all

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four then go fast with three to go fast

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go alone to go far go together next time

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somebody says what are your goals

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stop saying to increase top-line

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revenues by a million dollars and ten

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million dollars or whatever you want to

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do next year and start saying we're

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building a company that's going to last

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a hundred years watch the changes that

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happen inside the company devote

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yourself not to firing people but to

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give them an opportunity to contribute

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and if they fail help them up and if

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they fail help them up and if they fail

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help them up and if you really think

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they're incompetent and you really don't

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believe they fit your culture why did

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you hire them because of their resumes

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or because they belong we should treat

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hiring like adopting a child we don't

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adopt children were saying well I'd like

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a blonde haired blue-eyed kid yay hi and

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I want to make sure that they've done

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well in preschool before I take them

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well that's how we hire people I'm

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looking for somebody with experience in

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our industry with at least five years

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with this kind of niall you mean it will

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take you no that's not what we do when

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we adopt a child we're going to give

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them the keys to our house we let them

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run around by themselves maybe even give

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them responsibility over our other

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children it's a slow decision we want to

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get to know the kid we want to spend a

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little time with the kid

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see if there would fit in our family if

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our other kids would get along with them

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hiring is exactly the same you cannot

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judge the quality of a company by the

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good times we cannot judge the quality

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of a crew when the when the seas are

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calm we judge the quality of a crew and

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the seas are rough and numbers will

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never come to your aid ever people will

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if your things are going great and

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everything is growing and you feel that

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everyone is disposable guess what they

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think the same about you it's reciprocal

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it's always balanced time and energy

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roam the halls implement policies where

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if you have something to say somebody

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not just the exchange of information if

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you want to pay someone a compliment if

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you want to ask somebody a question

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about their work not about some fact

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like what time's the meeting you do not

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send emails you stand up you walk the 35

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feet and you walk into the ref and say

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hey quick question for you that thing

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that you did for the client can you just

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tell me a little more about it because I

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have a client meeting I promise you the

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relationships that will form simply

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because people are giving time and

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energy it's too quick to send an e mails

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too easy if you come over if I come over

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to your house for dinner and a day later

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I send you this beautiful email how

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grateful I am for the dinner that you

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made for me or if I sent you a

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handwritten note with the exact same

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words which one makes you feel better a

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handwritten note it's not the words it's

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not the intention it's the time and

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energy we take and if you think you're

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too busy to give time and energy to your

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people then they're too busy to get time

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and energy to you it is a balanced

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equation I imagine a world in which the

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vast majority of people wake up every

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single morning inspire to go to work and

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come home every single day fulfilled by

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the work that they do

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I believe that loving our jobs is a

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right a not a privilege

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why should it be just a lucky few who

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get to love going to work it is an

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entitlement that we all have and by

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saying love our jobs doesn't mean to

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like them every day we love our children

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every day we don't like them every day

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right we don't have to like every day

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but it can be hard but we get to love it

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every day and the thing that makes us

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love our jobs is not the work that we're

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doing it's the way we feel when we go

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there we feel safe we feel protect

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we feel that someone wants us to achieve

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more and is giving us the opportunity to

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prove to themselves and to ourselves

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that we can this is the world that I

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imagine this is why I do these talks

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because I'm just a cog in the wheel cog

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in the machine I'm just a small piece of

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the jigsaw puzzle I come to this to

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speak to them the nice people like

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yourselves because you're the ones who

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are running companies you're the ones

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who are in control of the cultures that

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you're building you're the ones who

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determine who you hire and who you don't

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are you hiring based on skills you're

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hiring based on culture I come and share

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these ideas with you with the hope that

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some of you will try some of these

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things and over the course of time you

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will watch your own cultures improve and

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the people love coming to work oh and by

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the way it's good for innovation is good

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for progress and it's good for profit

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aside so I thank you very much

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you

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