Leading With An Infinite Mindset
Yesterday as I took my daily walk, I was listening to a podcast interview with Simon Sinek, the prolific author, renowned speaker and international consultant. My sons have gifted me with one of Simon’s books, “Leaders Eat Last.” Simon is truly a deep thinker about leadership.
In his latest book, “The Infinite Mindset,” Simon says that all great organizations must advance a just cause and play the long game. On this podcast, he talked about the demise of Blockbuster, which at one time was the dominant player in movie rentals across the country.
When Netflix, an upstart in the field, came up with the streaming model, Blockbuster’s CEO recommended to its Board of Directors that Blockbuster should play in that space as well. The board members looked at the financials, seeing that Blockbuster enjoyed its most significant revenue stream from late fees, and declined to follow the CEO’s recommendation.
Simon talked also about how when Apple introduced the IPod, Microsoft determined to make a better, faster and more effective competitor for the IPod. They spent millions on striving to reach that goal. While Microsoft was focusing on building its own version of a better IPod, Apple was pivoting and developing – of course – the IPhone.
In both instances, one company was playing with a finite mindset and the other was playing with an infinite mindset. How did they do that? With amazing teams.
Simone’s data shows that great leaders build trusting teams. “If you want to build something that survives you,” he said on the podcast, “learn to obsess not about results, but obsess about building great teams that take care of each other.” Great leaders always ask themselves a question like this: ”If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, what will happen to my team?”
Team members must be accountable not only to their leaders, but to each other. In every great organization, Simon opined, “it’s all about the team.” This applies to all groups – families, work groups, volunteer organizations, government agencies, religious groups. For any team, there must be clarity of purpose and a focus on the long-term goals.
Listening to Simon prompted me to think back to my 32-year-run as Assistant Dean of Continuing Legal Education at Georgetown Law. We planned and executed thousands of successful programs during that time which generated millions of dollars in revenue for Georgetown.
However, the one accomplishment about which I was most proud when I retired in the summer of 2017 had nothing to do with programs or dollars. It was building a positive team culture that was recognized throughout the law school and which survived my retirement. It remains strong to this day.
You can do the same thing. Follow Simon’s advice. Play the long game. Adopt an infinite mindset.