We saw Simon Sinek [optimist teacher, writer and worldwide public speaker] deliver his talk about his latest leadership theory – The Infinite Game.
You may have already heard some of what he said on the net –Talks at Google gives you a pretty good idea and his new book will be out in June.
He is quoted as saying: “In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified.
In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game; there is only ahead and behind.”
So what did we take out of it?
From a leader’s viewpoint – start with the why and stick to your purpose. Although intangible and difficult to measure unlike market share or profit returns, your purpose will keep you in the infinite game. However be prepared to be flexible – sometimes you need to bin an idea which you may have heavily invested in because something new has come up. He cites the difference between Apple and Microsoft – Apple looks to their vision, Microsoft looks to Apple. It’s not about winning but continuing in the game and staying ahead.
But from a more personal viewpoint his theory of “the circle of safety” resonated with us. In order to be able to keep flourishing in the Infinite Game, you need people around you who believe in your vision. And to get people to believe you need them to feel safe. They know they can disagree or suggest an alternative way forward because their organisation has shown they put their people first, And so the company vision becomes the individual’s vision and as a result everyone can stay in the game.
The benefit? Everyone loves their work.