Leaders Listen with Simon Sinek

This week on the podcast, we’ve taken two key clips from a recent conversation between John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, and Mark Cole. They discuss the importance of listening and empathy when it comes to leading and connecting with people––especially those unlike us.

During the application portion of this episode, Mark Cole and Jason Brooks discuss what we can accomplish by listening to others and stepping out of our own perspective. During times of tension, we often avoid the most pertinent conversations because we find them uncomfortable. But this episode will encourage you to lean into the discomfort that growth requires of us.

Our BONUS resources for this episode are the Leaders Listen Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching, and the live video of the entire discussion between John, Simon, and Mark. You can download the worksheet and find the video link by visiting MaxwellPodcast.com/LeadersListen.


Mark Cole:           Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast! Mark Cole here, and we have a treat for you today. As many of you know, John has been on Mondays streaming live with a program called “Leadership When It Matters Most”. Just in the last couple of weeks we have added to that and called it the “Leader Series”. This is a series to where John's going to bring leaders that are leading in these challenging, unusual times, and bring them to the table to have a conversation. And so, we felt, our podcast team Jake, Jason, and myself, we felt like there was so much gold in these conversations, we wanted to bring it to you, our podcast community. And so today no stranger to you, no stranger to this podcast community is Simon Sinek. Now, you know Simon, and not just from his books, not just from his friendship with John, but he's been on our podcast. Today, you are going to see some insights as we listen into a segment that John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, and myself just aired a week ago. We're going to pull out two clips from John and Simon's conversation. Today, if you would like to go and get the full Facebook Live video of John Maxwell and Simon Sinek, you can go to Maxwellpodcast.com/leaderslisten. Leaders, plural, listen. Click on the “Resource Button”, you'll be able to see the full video of us talking. Now, I'm ready to jump in because this first clip, Simon and John are answering a question by a gentleman named Ty, and this clip is really important because it deals with empathy, with how we listen in leadership. Especially, during these times when critical conversations with people that look different than us, that think different than us, people who have a different perspective, people who have a different experience. We realize in this segment how necessary this is, but how difficult it can be. So here we go! This first clip from the discussion, then Jason Brooks, my co-host today, and I will come back and offer thoughts and application.


Clip 1:

Mark:                    Hey, let's go to Ty. He is from Virginia Beach. Simon, we'll go to you first and then John, you just jump right in. Ty says many of the tensions we're experiencing are because leaders have failed to listen. How can we become better listeners? And secondly, how do we change from just hearing someone's perspective to actually listening to that perspective?

Simon Sinek:        Well asked and answered. You know, we can make demands of our leaders, but at the end of the day, we can only be responsible for ourselves. We can't change our leaders. We can vote them in and out, or we can, you know, choose to get a different job somewhere, but we can't physically, actually change the way that they're going to do business or how they see the world. You know, no number of anonymously sent books is going to solve that problem. But we can change ourselves. And you know, when I hear people talking about the system is broken. There's no mythical system, it's us. Our society is a collection of individuals, and whatever the balance of behaviors from those individuals is the system you get. And so, it starts at home, it starts with us, and so, we want to change the system, this elephant, the only way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time. And so, I think we need to set ourselves in a course to become better listeners ourselves, and there's a difference between listening and hearing. You know, hearing is understanding the words that are said to you, listening is trying to get to the meaning of the words that are said to you, with an appreciation that sometimes people say the wrong thing, they say what they're trying to say badly. Sometimes emotions are involved, sometimes they get flustered, and it's not for us to take their words personally, or to even pick apart, but to rather try and show up with curiosity, to really understand the meaning. What I'm describing is empathy. We show up with empathy. That's all this is, and to look past the superficial. I've heard it now, you know, which is, you know, talking about some of the anger, like if they weren't angry, then this would be more productive. Well, do you understand why they're angry? Let's go to the root, that's what listening is. It was Martin Luther King who said, “Riots are the language of the unheard.” Remember, we've all known what it feels like to feel heard, to feel heard, and what listening is it's the practice that another person will feel heard. You know, just to go off on a quick aside, you know, there's this trend in America today, everybody's talking about being present, and everybody's mindful, everybody's doing yoga, everybody's trying to be present. You know? I attended a meeting where there was a big-timey yoga instructor who was sitting next to me, and the entire meeting, she was on her phone and underneath the table, and it wasn't like she had a grandparent in the hospital or something, I could see she was on social media. You know? I was sitting right next to her. And at one point, we started talking about being present, and her head popped up and said, “That's why I love yoga. It helps me be present.” I mean, I don't think she understands…you are not present. You don't get to decide when you are present. You are present when somebody else says you are. And this is why we practice things like meditation. I mean, if anybody's ever done a meditation practice, we learn to sit in silence to focus on one thing, a sound or a mantra. We learn to clear our minds, and if we have a thought, we label a thought, we put it out of our minds. We find this Zen-like state, but that's not for you. You practice yoga, you practice meditation, you practice mindfulness as a service to another human being, so that when you are sitting across a table, that when they're speaking, you have learned to focus on only what they're saying and not if your phone is buzzing or some noise behind you. And if you have a thought, you're not just waiting for your turn to speak, but rather you label it a thought, you put it out of your mind, and you remain focused on what they're saying, and you try to learn and understand the motivation, the emotion underneath, and at the end, you will know you have been present when that person says, “Thank you, I feel heard. Thank you for listening to me. I appreciate you being here for me.” Are the words they will use when you have been present. And so, I think the question about listening is we have to go on the journey. It's a skill like any other, it is a learnable, practicable skill, and if you don't practice, you lose that skill. One book I would recommend, it's called, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. It's a bright yellow book. Yes, it's a parenting book. It's one of the best books to teach us to listen to adults as well. But it's a skill and if you want to learn it, I encourage you to, literally, go out and learn it and practice and practice and practice.

John Maxwell:      You know, Simon, when you talk about listening, in my young leadership years, I was not a good listener at all. I was so visionary, and I knew so desperately where I wanted to go, that it was basically, “Can I get you on my leadership train? And this is the way we're going.” And I was directional, I was motivational, I said, “Let's go!” And here's what I discovered about me, okay? The reason that I didn't listen well is because I valued what I wanted more than what they wanted. And so, I had to turn that around. You know, the old Zig Ziglar thing, “If you'll help people get what they want, they'll help you get everything you need.” Well, what I discovered is, again, I've got to go find them before I could lead them. And so, I changed from a directional leader to a conversational leader that basically asked a lot of questions. And, and so my favorite definition of listening because it works for me is listening and wanting to hear. I want to hear. And I love it when you said that the person that validates if you're present, isn't yourself. It's like, “Wow! Was I present?”

Simon:                  Where was I present today? Yeah.

John:                     Yeah, they're the ones! And there's not a higher compliment to give to people than to be present, and ask questions, and value your input, and ask for it. That's a high compliment. “What's your opinion?” “What do you think?” And what I found is that the great leaders, they listen, they learn, and then they lead.

Discussion 1:

Mark:                    Hey, welcome back! Jason, I know you and I both have learned from Simon Sinek and, boy, today was no different. Now, I was involved in this conversation making sure that the dashboard and everything was going in this Facebook Live video presentation. But today, I just got to absorb the content, and boy, is this not some life changing content here?

Jason Brooks:       Man, there's some amazing stuff that you guys were talking about, but I want to start here, one of the first things that Simon says is, and it especially jumped out to me because of a lot of the conversations that are going on right now, but Simon says, “There is no system, the system is us.” And that struck me because you're having a lot of conversations about, whether it's systemic racism or systemic injustice, we've spent a lot of time talking about the system and how the system is broken. But Simon says we're the system. So how do we, as leaders, make sure that we don't make leadership faceless? How do we make sure that we don't project this idea that there's this faceless system out to get people? How do we put a face on leadership for our people?

Mark:                    Well, Jason, in even this conversation, I'm going to put it as I always do on the podcast in light of the John Maxwell Company, of how we lead here, because I think how each of us have to lead, we have a global audience to our podcast, and some don't understand the challenges that the United States are going through right now. Their system doesn't even deal or cope with this. So, I'm going to apply, generally, to the idea of leadership, and again, I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but John, toward the very end of that clip, he said, “Leaders need to listen, learn and lead.” Now, again, we may come back and talk about that again in a little bit, Jason, but I got to start with that, even though John finished this clip with that, because I totally agree. And here's what's happened in my leadership, it's what's happened to me as a white leader for now, fifty years of my life. It applies in both cases. I as the leader, knee jerk reaction is I need to have an answer as soon as a question is asked to me. When do we, as leaders, think that we're supposed to have the answer to a question before the question was ever asked? We think we have to have all the answers. It's a pressure on us. So what Simon is saying here that really impacted me is too many times we as leaders think we don't have a problem, and so, we respond from a position of, really of aloof, we think that we're giving an answer, but really, if you were a leader like me, you wouldn't even see this as a problem. And I've done that, again, as a white leader in this whole issue that the United States is wrestling with, I've done that for years. So, my answer tried to be relevant, but my perspective was one, we really don't have a problem. We're going to get into that when we talk about children in just a minute, Simon's books suggestion. The second way that we deal with it is what Simon was talking about here and that is we blame the system. “It's the system, we can't do anything about the system, the system works 95% of the time, let's just not worry about it, the 5% that it doesn't work, after all, let’s statistically look at this issue. How many people? How many colors? How many this?” And so, we begin to try to index, or statistically understand the system and then we sit back and go, “Okay, we do have some problems, but it's not systemic because statistically we're going to be okay, the system works.” So, in other words, we excuse our fallacies, and again, this is in leadership, in our organizations too. We excuse our fallacies, our failures by saying, “Oh, that's a product of the system, and the system works a higher percentage of the time, then it fails. Good. The system is still good.” Oh, no, no, no it's not. When you dehumanize, or excuse me, when you dehumanize the system, as I do all the time, then you tend to look at the inadequacies of “the system”. But what Simon is saying, “Whoa! Whoa! Wait! Stop everything. The system is us.” The system is a group of people that look the other way 5% of the time, because 95% of the time works, and we as people have got to quit dehumanizing the system. We've got to humanize the system so that we will get better with our stats and excusing ourselves because of stats or systems. No, no, no, we can be better as leaders, and that's what John and Simon is saying in this clip. Get some empathy because you lose empathy when you put the results at the hands of something inhumane or something dehumanized like a system.

Jason:                    Man, there's so many directions I want to go off of this, but let me ask you this question, what are some ways you've practically learned to be more empathetic? I don't think empathy is just a finite quality, like I don't think you're born with just a finite amount. I think you can learn to increase that capacity, so what are some ways you have practically learned to be more empathetic as a leader?

Mark:                    Well, this is brand new, I'm showing you guys my—we're on Zoom. We're still doing studio separate, man, we're pivoting all over the place. Jake has got us all set up in three rooms, and I feel like I'm in a studio right now talking to a mic man. I feel important today, Jake, great job! But this is brand new. In fact, I'm going to teach on this, I have a Tuesday teaching call within our John Maxwell Team community, and I've just now got back to Atlanta at the taping of this recording, the recording of this podcast, and I've been in South Florida for ten days. I've had dinner with John and Margaret Maxwell, multiple times. I've got to spend two days in Miami with John, and so, we've watched video of African American, black leaders talking to white, Caucasian leaders, and we're all just wrestling with what's going on. John and I got to talk about leading in the crisis, the financial challenge, what are we going to do with some of our financial results of our company right now and so I'm really full. I get back, I'm also full because John Maxwell has lost so much weight during this COVID-19 that he literally, for the first time in his life, is close to weighing less than me, and so, it's got me on a tear. So, I say all of that, that's all fresh stuff for you guys on the podcast. I say all that because I went running for eight and a half miles on Saturday. I just was like, I got to get out of here and run ahead of John and keep my weight down. I'm running, and I'm thinking. That's when I love to think, I don't listen to music, this is my time to be away and think. And now think about this, at the taping of this podcast, we're about three months, three and a half months into an economic shutdown because of the health crisis of COVID-19. We still don't know where the financial results of COVID-19 is going to go. We're in about a month now since the tragic killing of George Floyd. We just recently this weekend at the taping of this podcast recording we had another African American, black person in Atlanta that was shot in the back by a police officer just today on the news. They're trying to figure out, was there just cause was there not, and none of us believe there's just cause for killing like that. So, we're in the middle of all of that. I'm trying to lead, I come back to Atlanta, my team is just all coming back into the office, and I'm trying to lead. And I've got to tell you, Jason, I was running on Saturday, that's long distance, and to your question, what am I trying to do? I'm trying to learn more about myself and about my leadership. I'm trying to learn more about leadership in general. And I'm trying to ascertain as a visionary leader, what we're going to do to lead through this to become better. Not lead to this, not lead through this to normalize, not lead through this to go back to the same old, same old, but to lead to be different, to lead to be better, to lead to be more unified as human beings as Americans as global citizens. How do we do that? And that's where my mind is, okay? So, there's some context now to answer your question, and as I'm running, I discovered something, now, I haven't said enough for some people. I said too much for other people. You can't get this right if you're still trying to please people even during a social crisis. You still got to lead, you still have to lead, and here's what I discovered…this is brand new, I haven't taught this yet, I'm working on it over the next two days for a lesson I'm teaching tomorrow night. But here's what I was running, and I went “Okay, Mark, tell me about yourself.” That's exactly what I said, I said, “Okay, Mark, tell me about yourself. Tell me about your leadership. Where are you?” And this is what I discovered, I discovered four statements. My first statement that I discovered about myself, Jason, is how little I listen. I pride myself in listening. I've been talking about, “I listen. I'm just listening. I want to get it right, I don't want to be right.” Is all statements I've been using. But I discovered how little I listen. I also discovered how quickly I speak. The third thing that I discovered is how little I understand, and how much I have to learn is the fourth statement. So how little I listen, how quickly I speak, how little I understand, and how much I have to learn. And I'm running along and going, “Mark, that posture is the posture you need to have in leading.” Let me go one step further, Jason, to answer your question. I'm a person of faith. I grew up, preacher's kid, I grew up strong—I mean, six times a week in church loving people. I've been struck lately, John and I sat down and watched a message, a faith message by T.D. Jakes, a very popular black African American pastor, and Carl Lentz, a very popular white, Caucasian pastor in New York City. And I listened to T.D. Jakes, John and I did, we sit down for an hour and twenty-five minutes and we just listened to this message. And they made a statement that really occurred to me and they said, “We cannot politicize the race differences in our country.” And again, I'm talking as a business leader too. We can't over systematize, to Simon's point, we cannot over systematize our response here. This needs a heart response. For those of us that are faith, people of faith, this needs a faith response. The Good Samaritan, for those of you that are familiar with Sunday school stories, you'll remember The Good Samaritan. This is a matter of our heart, not a matter of our system. So back to empathy, now, this was another thing that I found out about myself, I'm not proud of this. I'm confessing on podcast here. I grew up singing “Jesus Loves Me”, and all the people. He loves all the red, white, blue, yellow, He just loves us all, He just loves us all. But here's my challenge, I did sing that, I just didn't say it. I believed it, I just didn't live it. And so, I'm sitting here, Jason, and you're hearing eight statements that came to me as I was running. This is just my journey, again, podcast listeners, some of this will make sense to you, some of it will resonate, many of you are far more advanced than I am. But, Jason, to your very personal question to me and how I'm leading through crisis, through the racial tensions of the United States, but even as a leader that's a new owner of a bigger enterprise, I found out these eight statements is more true about me today than they've ever been true in my life.

Jason:                    Thank you for sharing that, first of all. I know that that's, you know, A it's fresh, but B it's personal, but I know that's why people love listening to you because you cut to the vulnerability and just share your heart, so thank you for that. But I love that because it dovetails perfectly in with the second clip that we have from Simon and John's conversation, and in this clip, they're going to talk about the need for leaders to have uncomfortable conversations, and especially about things like race. So, we're going to listen in as Simon and John talk about how leaders can have these uncomfortable conversations and then we'll come back. I've got a couple questions for you on the back side.

Clip 2:

Mark:                    That is Garrett Vida’s question. He's from Los Angeles, catch where he's from and what he's seeing every night in Los Angeles. Here's his question, what are some action steps we should take now, due to the complications of what's currently happening? Obviously, he’s talking about in our cities and in our streets.

Simon:                  So, I can only respond with what I'm doing. I don't think there's an answer. I'm trying to have a lot of uncomfortable conversations. I'm calling friends, I'm calling my black friends, I'm calling my white friends, I'm having uncomfortable conversations. And I'm asking them for advice, and I'm asking them how they feel, and I'm learning. And if somebody feels guilt, then probably means because you can relate to what's going on. If somebody feels, you know, if there's somebody who's white who's feeling guilty about something, it's probably because you recognize that there's white privilege, and you know it, and that's okay. The important thing is to sit with these emotions and to express these emotions. And I'm having uncomfortable conversations and I'm having comforting conversations. But I think that's what we have to do. I think this is, like, we have to go through this collective therapy, and we have to do it with the people we know and the people we love. I think we have to start really close to home. I had a conversation the other day with some business leaders, and they're asking me questions about what public statements they should make, and they made these public statements, they put out these statements, and I'm like, “Well, have you actually gone and sat down and talked to your team and let everybody just say how they feel?” They said, “No.” I said, “Well, why don't you start internally and not worry about what the legally approved public statement is, you know? Like, start talking inside. That's way more important right now. Check in with people.” I said, “Have you called all of your black employees and just said, ‘Hey, how are you?’ Have you put ten, fifteen people around a table, around a Zoom Room? Have you had a team call and just said, ‘Hey, this is a safe space. Let's just go, anybody want to say how they feel?’” And by the way, whether you like it or not, the leaders have to lead by example. We did a team call where we just went around the room and said, “Anybody who have anything on their mind…” But I started, and it has to be genuine and heartfelt. Kind of just be like, “This is a safe space. Tell us what you think.” Leaders got to put it all out there. All the discomfort, warts and all, so that people know that they can do that without judgment. But I think this is what we've done. I think, you know, we live in a society that is over indexed on machismo. We live in a society that is over indexed on individuality, rugged individualism. You know, John, you and I've joked about this before, we have an entire section in the book shop called “Self-help”. We have no section in the book shop called “Help Others”. We've over indexed on individual performance and individual wealth, and yet the [INAUDIBLE] in service, we've just kind of forgotten over the past thirty, forty years. Just to put it in into perspective, during World War II, there are more cases of young men committing suicide who didn't get drafted. Think about that for a second. The shame of not being called to service was more traumatic than being called to service. And, you know, service used to be normal, like chivalry used to be the normal way of doing business. Your word was your bond, and that you could go to war if you violated values. Service used to be a normal thing. Now, we talk about it like you're lucky to get it in companies. You know, handshake deals used to be like a real thing. And I think we've as a society, we've forgotten what it means to do things for others, and by the way, service is a very specific definition. It means sacrificing your interests for the good of another human beings life. Sacrificing your interest. You cannot have service without sacrifice. And it doesn't have to be your life, it could be time, it can be energy, it could be money, it could be your attention. You know? Think about how your kids feel when you're actually turned to them and talk to them and look at them versus talking to them while you're on your phone. That's an act of service, putting this away sacrificing that I'll have to just have more emails and work later, because I'm going to put this away. That's the sacrifice I'm going to make for my child or for my spouse, and I think we've forgotten about service. Service is not giving a donation, that's not service. The only time money becomes of service is if you give more money than you have to give, then it's a service. But if you give, you know, a hundred bucks and you make $200,000 a year, it's nice, nice gesture, keep doing it. It's not service. Service has to come with sacrifice. And I think that's what we're learning right now.

John:                     You know, Simon, you just defined service wonderfully for all of us. But you've also, you defined service for us, but you showed us humility, and really, Simon, we're over our heads and a crisis ought to bring humility to all of us. We don't have answers, and the only way that we're going to get the answers is by humbling ourselves and going to other people and having uncomfortable conversations. I don't mind the uncomfortable conversations. I don't like what happens when you have an uncomfortable conversation, and you still feel uncomfortable after because you haven't done what you need to do to begin to change and begin to understand things from their perspective with their point of view. But I think, you know, probably my proudest time to be American was right after 9/11 for about three months. There was such a sense of humility. I mean, politicians just started reaching across the aisle and started truly, kind of, maybe, putting the people first. That's what a novel thought for a politician but I mean, people were very humbled because we didn't have answers and we don't have answers today either. And, there's no room for arrogance in leadership, and there's no room for personal rights in leadership and I think that when you are calling your friends and having uncomfortable conversations, what you're basically saying is, “I have to be uncomfortable and humble myself so that I can come to grips with me.” It's, again, it's not, “How do I fix society?” It's, “How do I fix me?” The good news is once I kind of get fairly fixed, I can go help some other people, because you can only give with what you have. And, so I think you described service, great for assignment, but I think you've modeled with your phone conversations example, humility, which all of us need to exhibit at this time.

Discussion 2:

Jason:                    Man, Mark, that is a power packed clip, and I'm trying to think of the best way to get into it because there's so much wisdom between John and Simon. So, I think I want to start with this question because we are living in an age where we're having to have a lot of uncomfortable conversations, you've had to have a lot of different conversations as a leader. So, what are you learning right now as a leader about how to sit in and lead these uncomfortable conversations in situations like we're experiencing right now?

Mark:                    You know, in the last clip, Simon talked about this kid's book that he was referencing, and so we were talking about that book before we started recording, Jason, and Jake was telling us that he read it and he was talking about how when we see someone, and this is in the reference for kids, and so my example is going to be Macy to your question, but when we see someone responding in a way that we don't understand, we challenge them rather than validate their emotions, we challenge them. And so, what we teach them is don't trust your emotions, trust my perspective of your emotions. And when Jake was sharing that, because he's read the first chapter of this book that Simon recommended, I immediately went back to something that's happened during the COVID-19 in my home, and I don't know if any of you will relate to this, but they say that domestic violence is up by multiple double digit points. They say that challenges in home life is up because we're all kind of stuck together, we're all on high alert in our emotions, we're all trying to demonstrate our emotions rather than understand the emotions of others. And so, I'll never forget this, I hope I will never forget this for the rest of my life. This was several weeks back, and we're in COVID-19, we're in our home, and I'm literally making millions of dollars of decisions about some hotel contracts and different things that we've got going on and I'm talking to lawyers and I'm in my office, and I come out and we're going to have family dinner together. We have family dinner together, we ordered in some soup from a favorite restaurant of ours and the soup they've got, we're eating the soup, we’re eating the soup and all of a sudden, my 13 year old daughter just begins to well, “Oh, no!” I mean, she is going crazy, and I look over and she has found a bug in her soup. Now, I'm watching Jake and Jason on my screen, those of you in podcast land, Jake kind of bust out laughing, Jason almost loses whatever he had for breakfast. I mean, the multiple responses is there, but for my daughter, the response was literally, the end of the world had just happened, and she found out she was unprepared. I could not get my mind around Macy's response to a bug in her soup. Do I suggest she eat any more soup? No. Do I suggest that she don't go have a moment of feeling a little sick saying, “If I saw one bug did I eat the other one?” I had another moment of going, “Macy, it's just additional protein in our vegetable beef soup.” I had all of these different range of emotions, but I'll tell you my primary one, my primary emotion was, “Are you kidding me right now? I'm in my office making millions of dollars of decisions. I've got people that's worried about if they're going to keep a job. We're trying to change some of our personal spending habits because of our own financial adjustments, and Macy is melting down because of a bug in her soup.” That was my primary answer. And I let her know I cannot believe you're responding like this with a bug in your soup. That was Friday night, Saturday morning, I get up and teach all the wonderful people in our John Maxwell Team about how to connect with people and how to be in this together and how to relate to one another so we could lead during this COVID-19 crisis, and I was teaching up a storm and boom! Like a ton of bricks, I realized that my daughter's response was her response, perhaps not even to a bug in the soup, but because she had not been able to go to school. She had not seen any of her friends. She had not had a lot of things that felt normal to her, and a bug in the soup was a tipping point for her, and, Jason, I'm going to tell you, I'll tell you what I did. I stopped teaching. I told the story in my lesson, I cut short the Q&A, and when I was done, I went up and bawled, bawled like a baby to my daughter and I said, “Macy, I cannot believe that as a dad, I was so insensitive to how you responded.” You know what I did? I did what Simon just told us in this clip, I had an uncomfortable conversation with my daughter, with uncomfortable emotions, with an uncomfortable admission to my daughter that I had led her poorly. In fact, I didn't even lead her the night before. And then I did something that as a parent is very hard and awkward to do. I asked Macy to forgive me for not walking hand in hand with her during the COVID-19 but trying to leave her to see a bigger picture, because I had been dealing with bigger pictures of millions of dollars earlier that day. And I think when we realized that, as Jake told us, Jason, in the book, we teach our followers, we teach people that look different than us, we teach people that have race perspective that I don't have, we teach followers that are trying to re-engage in workspace environments, we teach them not to trust their emotions, but to trust my, the leaders perspective on their emotions, and man, I'm just trying to lead differently, and some days is good, ask Macy, some days are really poor.

Jason:                    Well, thank you for sharing that story, but it leads into something that John said right there towards the end of the clip, he said that there are no personal rights in leadership, that when we are leading, it can't be about me, it's got to be about the people. You've said under this with John, you've seen John's example, you've just shared an example of in your own life, kind of, help us, as leaders, whether in the home or at work, or just in the community, you know, some of us are out there trying to make a difference in the community. How do we genuinely put people first? How do we really set aside our agenda and put people first? You know, you talked about you were in the middle of teaching when it hit you, but is there a way that we can get there maybe faster, and be better for our people?

Mark:                    Boy, I love this question, Jason, you and I, I think it was before our last podcast—well we didn't do a podcast recording and me, you, and Jake just sit down and had a very, very incredible conversation. And we were talking about posting in social media, you know, there is this tendency that we have now to hide behind our screen and think nobody can get to us, and by doing that, we're making helpful statements of position or posture. And I'm not criticizing that or not. I'm telling you that I don't think that's the first step. I don't think getting visible through social statements or social means is the first step. I don't. In fact, I think Simon gave us the first step. He said, listen to this, he said, “Have you put ten to fifteen people around a table to discuss your leadership issue, your leadership posture position?” You know, for years now, we've done something here at the John Maxwell Company that I'm proud of, but boy, in these times, I'm sitting here going, “Boy, is once a quarter enough?” We have this thing called CEO Corner, and what I do is I come in and I disciplined myself in that hour lunch, that is voluntary, come if you want, we'll provide lunch if you come. In that environment I disciplined myself to make sure that I speak less than 10% of that meeting. I don't want to speak, it's the CEO corner. People want to know where the leader is, what the leader’s posture position is, and the whole point of that is I want to see where my pit position and posture should be based on what the team that represents our leadership brand thinks. And I do that once a quarter and it's incredible. But what Simon is saying is our first leadership, posture and position, especially in some of the crisis-oriented things that we're dealing with now, should be a position of listening. In fact, John said it in that last segment, he said, “Listen, learn, then lead.” Many times, we lead, and we learn along the way, and the listening is the expectation of the follower, not the leader. And I believe some of the practical ways that you, Jason, I, in John's world, every leader listening to this podcast, I think the best thing that we can do right now is not listen to hear. That's nice, that's good, but we need to listen to understand, back to empathy. In other words, don't try to make a statement until you feel like you have a better understanding of what the other person is experiencing; not a better understanding of what they're saying. Just recently, we've got some—back to Simon's question, have you talked to some people that look differently than you? That grew up differently than you, before you respond? A couple of weeks ago right after this tragic death of George Floyd, I was privileged to have over four and a half hours of conversations with two different, at separate times, of our black African American teammates. These are leaders, these are people that are helping me carry this banner of leadership. I'm going to tell you, we cried, we prayed, we talked together, and I walked out of that session, Jason, more than ever in my life, understanding a different way of growing up better than I ever did. Do I understand completely? No, I need a few more of those sessions, but I understand better so that now as I post or as I teach, or even as we have this very raw podcast, I would have been ill equipped to have this roll of a podcast two weeks ago, because I needed some understanding, not just some conversation. So, to your question, I think you need to sit down with people that look, think, feel, differently than you, grew up differently than you, and then I think you need to stay in that environment until you understand, not until you've heard it. out.

Jason:                    Man, I love that and I'm going to come back to you and let you wrap up the episode here, because we're getting close to time, but I want to go ahead and remind our listeners, we've mentioned a of couple books, one is Leadershift, by John Maxwell. Hopefully you have it, if not, you definitely want to get it. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek is Simon's latest release that has sort of helped drive a lot of our conversations with him as of late, and then Mark mentioned the book that Simon recommended about learning to listen and have conversations with your kids. That book is called, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, it’s a bright yellow book, you should be able to find it. You could find it on our podcast notes page for this episode, you can go to Maxwellpodcast.com/leaderslisten. You'll also be able to download the fill in the blank notes for this episode, as well as the full Facebook Live video with Mark and John and Simon. So, make sure you have done that, if you haven't already, we would love for you to subscribe. Give us a rating on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you listen. Leave us a comment if you've heard something that you'd like for us to explore more, or if you have a question you'd like for us to tackle in a future episode, we love to hear from you and engage with you. But, Mark, I'm going to throw it back to you and let you wrap this up with a closing thought or an application or wherever you want to go, brother.

Mark:                    Yeah, well, you know what I'll close with, Jason, I love that you suggested people give us a thought and you don't have to just give us positive thoughts, give us ways constructively, that we can serve you, our podcast community better. Joshua, he sent us an email just recently and said, “Thank you, John, Mark, and of course, Richard helped us found the podcast.” He said, “Thank you guys for this. This podcast has provided needed growth in an essential time in my life. Thank you for the content. I'm a husband, I'm a father of a have a healthy four-year-old, I was working 12-hour shifts and taking seven hours of in class college courses last year-round this time.” Joshua, your busy buddy! He said, “You guys provided some constructive, inspirational, and wise words that helped me study the course and complete my degree.” Joshua, number one, congratulations! Number two, I'm proud of you and the way that you are parenting your four-year-old, but number three, thank you for letting us be a part of adding value to you. To the rest of you, thank you! Share this podcast, get it out. Hey, let's lead during these times of crisis but leading doesn't always mean out front by yourself. In fact, in these times, leadership means being out front with a group of people helping you see things you've never seen before. Let's lead! We'll see you next podcast.

3 thoughts on “Leaders Listen with Simon Sinek”

  1. I love this podcast. Listened to it at least twice and watched it on Facebook twice as well.

    It’s amazing how hard it is to truly listen and how it requires you humble yourself, be present and value what the other person has to say.

    1. At the “end” of a conversation I always want to be able to paraphrase the content back. As Simon said people want to feel they’ve been heard, and if I can say something to the effect of “so what you’re saying Jane is we could streamline the process by doing x and y, before z.” A couple things happen here. When you say “so what you are telling me is …” you are fully admitting that you’ve actively listened. You are building trust in this moment. You are empowering your team. Leaders who listen will find they get much more support from their team, because they feel a part of the decision making process. Good lesson.

  2. John Maxwell recommends to be in a growth environment when we are on a personal growth journey and since I am still trying to figure out where that place is, I come here and immerse myself in a growth environment, where I learn every something new and the more I listen to the same episode the more I get new insighs. I can’t take you enough for making this knowledge available to the world.

    Thanks again

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