Good leaders intentionally look for ways to improve. Bad leaders enjoy managing and rarely seek change. Some leaders rise to the task of innovative discovery, while others enjoy the paleness of their monotonous routines. Most of us know, and have been a part of a team where each of these leaders exist. One thing we can certainly agree on is the majority of us follow the humble pioneer, eagerly campaigning for a revolution and championing the culture in which his team has bred.
What is it that makes these leaders so inspirational, that we are willing to sacrifice our vulnerability to pursue their vision, maybe even above ours?
Simon Sinek says it perfectly: “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” As a leader, the key to understanding how to treat your team, tribe, or minions (however you truly view your employees) begins with sacrifice. Most narcissists are the first to say they are humble. Most self-image preservers are the first to say they don’t care what others think about them. Most power hungry people are the first to say they hate micromanagement. Likewise, most greedy people are the first to tell you they are sacrificial. Who’s to blame them? We live in a society where the majority of our people in power are narcissistic, self righteous, power-hungry, micromanagers.
It is inherent in us to preserve a certain image of ourself that exudes power, lust, success, etc. for all to take note. We care so much about what other people think that we are willing to sacrifice our integrity so that it appears that we would never sacrifice our integrity. Let that simmer for a moment.
Steve Jobs. Tim Kellar. Mark Cuban. Dave Ramsey. Chris Brogan. Walt Disney. Matt Chandler. Some of these names, we're all familiar with. Some of these names may not be as familiar. These individuals are true, inspiring leaders. They come from all different backgrounds, pursue ideas in all different industries, and are all wildly successful, although you may have never heard their names. What do each of these leaders have in common? They believe in cultivating groups of individuals, unifying them under one primary belief, and exposing the richness of something much greater than self.
The paradox of these leaders, and so many others like them, is they recognize the desires of society are cheap and unsustainable, but when culture exists, growth comes to life. People come to life. Business comes to life. People will stop working for your money and they will work for what you commonly believe. While most people are chasing power, personal gain, and self-worth, these leaders are chasing other people to rise up and become leaders.
So, what does this have to do with innovation? Again, Simon Sinek says it wonderfully, "When we are surrounded by people who believe what we believe, trust emerges. Only when trust exists are we willing to experiment." Have you ever been a part of a team that performs out of fear? How about a team whose only hope for reward is financial gain? If you have, would you say that was the time in your life where you felt the most inspired, creative, and overall happy? Probably not. Think, for a moment, if you never feared losing your job. What if you never woke up on Monday morning dreading the fact that there are five more days until the bleeding stops again. What if, instead, you were working for a common belief that far outweighed the desire for personal gain? This is the exact environment that cultivates and fosters creativity and opens the door for inspiration.