A Call to Lead Podcast: Sometimes Great Leadership Starts With Asking Why

Intuitively Right: Inclusive Design and Accessibility
February 20, 2019
Diversity in Tech: Black Employee Network at SAP
February 20, 2019

The most satisfying thing about holding a leadership position is that every day you have a chance to inspire and develop people. For me, if by the end of each day I’ve done something significant to inspire and develop just one of the thousands of people I’m fortunate to lead at SAP, I’ve succeeded.

Still, the more I learn about what it takes to be an extraordinary leader in the 21st century — a magic mix of intellect, EQ, passion, and wisdom — the more I realize that the journey along the path to great leadership is one that never really ends.

  • Simon Sinek is this week’s guest on the A Call to Lead podcast

Which leads to this podcast, A Call to Lead, and my brilliant and inspiring guest, Simon Sinek. I’m giving a special shout-out about this episode of A Call to Lead because Simon’s insights about leadership in a fast-changing world has been helpful to me, and I think could benefit anyone working to be a better leader.

You may know Simon from his TED Talks, which are viral phenoms, or his best-selling books. Start With Why, his first book, is a guide to discovering and honing purpose to help build extraordinary teams. In his upcoming fifth book, The Infinite Game, Simon explains how to lead in a world where the competition comes and goes, where rules are changeable, and where there is neither a finish line nor definite winners. Simon spoke about playing “the infinite game” as part of a keynote I gave kicking off the year for SAP last month, and in this podcast he talks about that and much more.

Here are five takeaways from this episode of A Call to Lead with Simon:

  • To play the infinite game is really hard. Among all the important leadership traits, courage is No. 1. To do the right thing in the face of pressure is hard. (17:39)
  • Empathy is another critical leadership trait. Our common humanity matters. Whether they’re customers or vendors or employees, we’re dealing with human beings. (17:39)
  • Annual evaluations are a thing of the past, and it’s not so much what the evaluation says, it’s what the trend lines say. If you had a bad evaluation first and second quarter, but third and fourth quarter start to show signs of looking up, that’s a good person. You’ll want to give that person a shot to keep improving. (20:55)
  • It’s the responsibility of businesses to provide their people and their customers and their vendors a sense of purpose and a cause that we’re all advancing — something that’s bigger than ourselves, and that’s why all of life’s blood, sweat, and tears are worth it. (24:10)
  • Metrics are very important. Metrics help us measure speed and distance. But they don’t indicate the end of the game. (24:48)

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