This is Part Two of a post reviewing Simon Sinek’s 10 Rules For Success. Simon’s talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” has had over 37 million views. He has the ability to codify quite complex behaviors and therefore bring insight to leaders grappling with growing their businesses. He produced a fascinating list based on his experiences called “10 Rules For Success”. I thought it might be helpful to translate his ideas for leadership teams driving mid-market companies – say $50m to $1 billion revenue level. This post covers Rules 6 to 10.

#6 Stack The Deck

Thesis – You get to choose your friends, your clients and special people to hang out with. Why be someone’s 10th choice? Stack the deck asks you to choose a path that favors you. Changes the odds in your favor.

As your career progresses I believe you acquire the right to choose. At first when we set out on our careers we tend to jump into jobs because time is of the essence. We want success. As your skills develop and you start to build perspective, you realize how important relationships matter. The fortunate ones amongst us recognize this much earlier than others. I was very lucky to have a great boss at Thomson Publishing. He said “it’s very important to have fun at work and the more fun I have the more money I make!” Hey I was 26, I’m not going to argue with that. Of course he was a hard working, razor sharp, dedicated, talented genius, which helped. Surround yourself with talented people you like, have fun and watch success embrace you.

#7 Be the last to speak

Thesis – Using Nelson Mandela as an example, Simon illustrates the story of Nelson father, a great tribal leader. Nelson seeking guidance from his dad, asked what makes you a great leader? Two skills he said to his son you need to acquire. One, question to understand why someone believes what he believes. Two, always be the last to speak.

If every negotiator in business could develop those skills, they would transform their performance. But it’s not easy. It takes many years of practice for it to look natural. Using questions to clarify someone’s position is my negotiating tip #1. Being the last one to speak is really hard but it starts by seizing the chairmanship of the meeting. As chairman of the meeting you get to summarize the issues with the knowledge of all the participants.

#8 Be Authentic

Thesis – People are watching. You are constantly sending out symbols of what you stand for. Your actions send out signals. He cites Tiger Woods as an example of living a lie. We thought we knew who he was. He lied. Of course these days the Me Too movement has certainly revealed many icons who appear to have been living a lie. Say what you believe and attract people who believe in what you believe in.

I often feel in business this lack of authenticity pours out of leaders without them realizing it. People are so much smarter than you think. “We invest in our people and are committed to their success.” Really? So where is your internal university training structure to develop the next generation of managers? Words are cheap. Show your people what you believe in with actions. Use marketing communications to describe the outputs and results you are delivering for clients. Too many blog posts are analogous to a person who has never seen the color Mikado trying to describe it (its yellow).

#9 Find Your Passion

Thesis: You are who you are. The person you are at work should be the person you are out of work. If you are passionate about new ideas and developing people at work, let that guide you in your downtime. The theory is simple – do stuff you enjoy.

Here is where rules like these can come across as being just platitudes. But it is worth pausing for a moment to acknowledge that it takes courage to recognize that you are not enjoying your role at work. Or maybe you are not enjoying your leisure time. I’ve observed the following behavior with managers who are progressing in their careers – they are looking through an old lens of old agenda items and objectives. Examples include senior managers falling back on their default comfort zone of being mired in the details, instead of rising above the mundane and leading. Or the generational change of kids moving out of the large family home which is now way too big for two adults and a dog! Passion needs recalibrating regularly to ensure you are still excited by your pursuits and your lifestyle.

#10 Start With why

Thesis: Simon’s signature dish. He calls it the Golden Circle. He believes he has observed a pattern of behavior by the remarkably successful. Apple, Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King Jr. are all used as examples. Instead of describing what they do and then how they do it, and perhaps why they do it, these entities and people describe why they do what they do first. My blog post summarizing it is here.

It is a compelling thesis. I’m a believer that he has put his finger on something very important that should make you really look at your own marketing communications strategy. Forcing the leadership team of your business to ask why, goes to the very heart of why the business exists. You can be remarkable or invisible. It starts with why. It also connects with the social science research of why people come to work and that is “Purpose”. People are looking for a purpose to their work. Give them something to be proud of. Of course the How has to be unique or close to it, and the corollary is clearly What you do.

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