Inspiring Leadership: Marie Forleo and Simon Sinek

Marie Forlio interview about leadership
Marie Forleo interviews Simon Sinek about leadership and his book Leading With Why

Simon Sinek is an author and speaker who popularized Leading With Why. This is the idea that great leadership starts with knowing your reason for doing what you do. Marie Forlio’s interview with Simon Sinek covered Sinek’s TED talks and books, including Leading with Why and Leaders Eat Last. As an MBA student, several points in the interview stood out to me.

The Right Environment Inspires Greatness. 

Sinek talks about his experience getting to see a healthy military community. In it, people felt trust and respect for their leaders. Because people felt connected to each other, they felt empowered to do great things. Connected people sacrifice for the sake of their community. Sinek contrasts this story with stories of unhealthy businesses. In those communities, people feel unsafe and so they spend time and energy protecting themselves from their leaders. People either don’t make decisions, or they keep track of good things they’ve done.

Sinek says that leaders are responsible for the work environment. The best way to measure the health of a workplace is to ask people if they feel safe in their jobs. If employees feel unsafe, like feeling cynical or mistrusting, then it is the leader’s responsibility to change the environment. A good environment is the key to a healthy workplace. Once the environment is healthy, workers are more likely to do their best.

Leadership is the practice of putting others first.

Sinek says that leaders are not simply people who have power, but leaders are people who put others first. Because being a leader is all about creating a healthy environment, leaders must put others’ needs ahead of their own. 

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. 

In Sinek’s TED talk, Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, he talks about the idea that people are motivated more by companies whose work is in line with a purpose. Sinek uses the example of Apple’s marketing strategy, which is not “We make well-designed computers, would you like to buy one?” Instead, it is “Our purpose is to challenge the status quo through innovation and design, and we make computers.” By leading with purpose, Apple inspires consumers with similar values.

Takeaway: Sinek says that leadership is a choice, not a rank. Anyone can be a leader by putting others first. Leaders build a positive environment that encourages people to collaborate and trust each other.

Looking for more? Check out my review of Gary Vaynerchuk’s video for marketing strategy in 2018.