Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

Our environment fosters our actions and beliefs. We know this from growing up, where children raised in a specific upbringing or belief system are much more likely to adopt it as their own than other people who were not raised with those beliefs. Many times, we become like our environment. If we work in a place where people look out for their own interests, we will too. If we work with people who put others first, we will too. We are social creatures.

In this video, Simon Sinek talks about his experiences with members of the military and his interactions. When asked why they sacrificed themselves for others, they always told him it was because they knew that person would have done the same for them. There was immense trust between both parties, and it caused everyone to take risks and support each other even to the death.

“In the military they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. In business we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that we may gain.”

Almost nobody would risk everything for someone they consider an enemy. But what would you be willing to do for your mother, for your spouse, for your children, or anyone else you love dearly? My guess is that you would run through a wall for them and easily make the decision to die for someone if it meant they would live. I have a feeling that is true, because

As a leader, we must always put the interests of others above our own. This fosters that trust and safety in the workplace where people become more willing to do anything for you. Do you want someone to run through a wall for you? Run through a wall for them, first. Put their interests above yours ALWAYS, and you will have a team that follows you to the death.

Relationships are two-sided, and too often in the workplace we expect someone will do something just because we are paying them. We think payment creates loyalty since they wouldn’t be able to eat if it wasn’t for us. That’s not true at all. We pay someone in exchange for services rendered. They don’t owe us anything on top of that.

Walt Disney went bankrupt multiple times and wasn’t a wealthy man in the beginning of Disney, but he made the decision to always pay his employees before himself. This meant that there were instances where he didn’t get paid. Why do you think his employees were so loyal to him? They knew that they were working for a man that was willing to risk his own life to provide for their own.

To foster trust and loyalty in our lives and in our businesses, we need to intentionally put in the effort to make those around us feel loved and safe. Work needs to become a safe place, just as much as home is a safe place, if we really want to become the best leaders. Leaders don’t influence with intimidation and power, leaders influence with sacrifice and love.

“In the military they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. In business we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that we may gain.” This quote is everything that is wrong with the world that we live in. We are so focused on our own personal gains that we do it at the expense of others. I have nothing against personal growth, but I despise people who put others down to get there. Often, by working together we can both achieve greater heights than we could individually.

By fostering an environment of safety and love, we not only create more loyalty and become better leaders, but we also reap the rewards of improved productivity. Instead of having employees who are so focused on not losing their jobs that they focus all their energy on not getting fired, we now have coworkers who are willing to spend that energy on collaborating and finding ways to become more productive and efficient.

If you’ve ever had a boss that micro-managed you, you know that you are not nearly as productive as if you were left on your own. You spend so much time worried about not letting them down and worried about the next time they might show up unannounced and watch you while you work, that you are no longer thinking about how to best solve the problem. You are wasting so much of your brainpower just because you don’t feel safe or loved at work.

All of this so far has been about the ideas and feelings, but how can we make it practical? I decided that each day I am going to reach out to one of my coworkers and tell them how much I appreciate them. You’d be surprised at how many people would be willing to do so much more if they just heard from you that you appreciated them.

The next time there’s a crisis or a situation where you are forced to choose between helping other or helping yourself, choose to help others. You may not receive the instant gratification or help you needed, but in the long run it pays off 100 times out of 100. Make difficult decisions to help other people, and others will do the same for you. We live in a world of reciprocity. We treat others how we are treated. But that’s a reactive model. Make it proactive and live the Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated, and you will be.

Read any good books? Any questions or thoughts? Leave a comment below!

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