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The infinite game Simon Sinek

A bold framework for leadership in today's ever-changing world

January 29, 2023 - 666 words - 4 mins Found a typo? Edit me
leadership people

How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers—only ahead and behind.

Infinite-minded leaders understand that “best” is not a permanent state. Instead, they strive to be “better”. “Better” suggests a journey of constant improvement and makes us feel like we are being invited to contribute our talents and energies to make progress in that journey.

The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in? In this book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset:

  1. Just Cause
  2. Courageous leadership
  3. Trusting teams
  4. Worthy rival

#1 You have to have a Just Cause

A Just Cause is the answer of Why your organization exists?

A cause so just that people will be willing to sacrifice themselves to see the advancement of that cause. Eg: working more hours, giving your best ideas, or rejecting another job offer and staying here because you believe in what you are doing.

In order to be happy, we need a sense of purpose or meaning; businesses are no different. When we look at developing a Just Cause, there are a few things that we need to articulate. Firstly, we must stand for something that’s inclusive, and exists primarily for the benefit of others.

In short, a Just Cause is a vision of a compelling future, making people want to be part of building this future, although they may never see it completed.

#2 You have to have courageous leadership

Courageous leaders are the ones that are willing to sacrifice the sort term in order to advance the long term.

Leadership is the acceptance of the responsibility to create an environment in which people can work on their natural best.

The senior most people in an organisation are not responsible for the result. They are responsible for the people that are responsible for the result.

#3 You have to have trusting teams

A trusting team is an environment in which people feel safe to raise their hand and say “I made a mistake. I don’t feel qualify to do the job you asked me to do, and I need more training. I need help. I am scared.” Without any fear of humiliation or punishment, whatsoever.

If you don’t have trusting teams, you have a group of people that work together lying and faking, and you’re forcing them to. It’s not their fault. You’re creating an environment in which people will not share mistakes because they think it will make them in trouble. Which means eventually things will compound and break.

It’s the responsibility of the leader to get the environment right. Get the environment right, you’ll get trusted teams. Get the environment wrong, you are forcing people to protect themselves from you.

#4 You have to have a worthy rival

Although the only true competitor in an infinite game is yourself, what competition does is help to reveal your weaknesses.

The goal is not to be number one in the infinite game, because there is no such thing. It’s about building a strong foundation. It’s about looking long term.

Money is a result, not a purpose.

There is no such thing as the one “right” organization. There are only organizations, each of which has distinct strengths, distinct limitations, and specific applications. An organization is not absolute. It is a tool for making people productive in working together.

Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.

270 pages