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Operations Blog

Operations: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe


shutterstock_199316183In March of 2014, Simon Sinek gave a TED talk called “Simone Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe.”

I recommend investing 10 minutes in watching his presentation here.

In his presentation Sinek tells the story of Captain William Swenson, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving people in Afghanistan. He tells the specific instance of Swenson, with a comrade, escorting a wounded solider to safety. This act was caught on a Go Pro camera by a solider in the medivac helicopter. As Swenson laid the soldier down — right before he turned back to help others — he bent down and kissed the wounded solider on the forehead.

As Sinek is watching this, he thinks to himself, “Where do people like that come from?”

Through his own research Sinek found that it had to do with the environment these people worked in.

He goes on to say that he has the honor of meeting many of these types of heroes, people who have put themselves at risk to save others. And he likes to ask them, “Why did you do it?” He reports that they all say the same thing: “Because they would have done it for me.”

In his presentation Sinek goes on to talk about some company leaders who made sacrifices to save employees. He talks about one company based out of New York City that guarantees employment for life, regardless of performance. If you work for them, and your performance suffers, they feel obligated to coach you up.

I watched Sinek’s 12-minute presentation two times. I then read some of the comments below. Below is the first comment.

“This is a motivating speech and I agree with many of the speaker’s opinions. However, he did not provide a specific feasible plan with actionable steps that the average person could follow in their daily lives to achieve this ideal. So this speech ends up being more of a wish than a practical idea, but I’m still happy that I tuned in nonetheless.”

I sort of chuckled after reading this. Being an expert on personality, I had opinions on what primary quadrant this commenter is. But regardless of that, he sort of had a point. I mean, I understand that Sinek’s goal is to get folks thinking about leadership and what it means. If they want more info, or a plan of attack, I am guessing he has a website and/or a book you can purchase.

But please let me make an attempt to help you get started in the right direction when it comes to leadership and getting the most buy-in from your employees.

1. Would you do their job for them if they needed you to? Since this is the main tenet of Sinek’s speech, I feel it all starts and ends with this. Would you stick your neck out for your employees? Cover for them? Help them in any way possible to be better at their jobs? Or do you simply set goals for them, and then when they don’t reach them, get mad at them? Think about it. A leader sets the tone. You want your tone to be: “I will do anything to help you succeed.

2. Do you instill the sense that their job is safe and they shouldn’t fear losing it? In making employees feel safe, a large part of that is making them feel like their job is theirs, providing they do it properly and effectively. They should also feel like they can come to their leader with any issue or concern.

3. Will you sacrifice for them? If you ever expect them to go above and beyond for you and your organization, it is imperative that you go above and beyond for their benefit at times.

I am not sure if those three things will satisfy Mr. “Action Steps” Commenter, but I hope they help you.

Keep changing lives.


Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. He can be reached at jason@jasonlinse.com or at 612-310-1319. Visit www.jasonlinse.com.


Jason Linse

Jason Linse is president and founder of The Business of Fitness, a consulting company. He also owns a personality assessment company called People Plus+ Fitness. Contact him at jason@jasonlinse.com or 612-310-1319 for resources on scheduling more tours and personality assessments, or visit www.jasonlinse.com.

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