Simon Sinek & the Empathetic Leader

Visionary thinker and author Simon Sinek talks about technology and practicing empathy. 

Ambassador Leaders Blog_Empathetic Leader

I attended a CreativeMornings event in San Diego where visionary thinker and author Simon Sinek spoke about a myriad of buzzworthy and timely topics – but the one I felt compelled to share with the Ambassador Leaders family is Simon’s thoughts on empathy.

But first, a proper introduction of Simon Sinek. Here’s what our friends over at Wikipedia have to say:

An author and speaker on topics of leadership, “he is known for popularizing the concepts of "the golden circle" and to "Start With Why", described by TED as "a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership, all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?"... His 2009 book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action delves into what he says is a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision-making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.”

In other words, the man knows his stuff when it comes to modern leadership theory.

Here are what I thought were the most powerful takeaways from his talk:

Joy comes from advancing, not competing. – Sinek shared anecdotes of working with some of the world’s largest leadership and executive teams (in particular, Apple and Microsoft) and the importance of focusing on setting your own goals and working toward accomplishing them – not looking at the competition and marrying your success to their performance – it’s futile.

A true leader is the person who goes first. – Taking risks and creating change are not easy things to do, whether you’re in school, at home or in the workplace. Sinek says a true leader have the courage to take risks, even if they fail. Just look at Elon Musk of Tesla, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Richard Branson of Virgin.

Empathy is the first criteria for being a good leader. – This was my a-ha moment during his talk. Empathy—the ability to recognize and share other people’s feelings—is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox, Sinek believes. In a nutshell, our increasing dependence on technology (i.e. our smartphones) is creating an environment of instant gratification, lack of person-to-person connection and overall loss in empathy. Yet empathy is crucial in establishing trust and perspective – 2 important things for leaders to possess.

These concepts were just the tip of the iceberg. You can watch his full talk here:

Simon Sinek at CreativeMornings San Diego, October 2016.

But how do you practice empathy? It’s a great question that is not often asked. Take it from Sinek himself in this article.

Sinek has been training himself to be more empathic by paying attention to everyday gestures, such as holding elevators for others or refilling the coffeemaker. Even small acts of kindness release a tiny shot of feel-good oxytocin. What’s more, “These little considerations for others have a building effect,” Sinek says. “The daily practice of putting the well-being of others first has a compounding and reciprocal effect in relationships, in friendships, in the way we treat our clients and our colleagues.”

So start today with 3 simple words, “Is everything OK?”

For more information on Simon Sinek visit his website and you can watch Sinek's first TEDx Talk on "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" .

Ambassador Leaders Blog_Lindsey

By Lindsey Suda

Lindsey helps run the social media side of Ambassador Leaders. Stop by our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Youtube and say hi. Post your summit or throwback pics with #ambassadorleaders - we love to see them!