Best-selling author Simon Sinek didn’t just give one of his trademark keynote addresses at MGMA18 | The Annual Conference — he also took audience questions on the spot. Here’s a sample of that discussion:
Q. Is the idea of an “infinite game” simply just the same as being persistent and consistent?A. Anything long term or infinite requires persistence and consistency. But to me that is insufficient, because you can be perfect in the finite pursuits of short-term, near-term gains. You can be persistent in your desire to win or be number one, you can claim your consistency and Lean this and Six Sigma that, and that doesn’t necessarily build an organization that people would sacrifice to be a part of nor does it ensure that the culture that you leave behind will survive you.
Q. We have a noble cause keeping healthy people healthy, helping sick people get better. What are the strategies to stay focused on these long-term goals?A. In industries like healthcare, you confuse the cause of your industry with the cause of your organization. And when you say our cause is to help sick people get better. ... That’s what healthcare does. … And so the question is, what is unique about your cause? Why is it that you want so desperately to be in healthcare and care for people? What is it about that?
I think a lot of leadership in organizations in the healthcare industry are full of [it], where you keep saying you care about people. And too many are making decisions where they’re prioritizing numbers over people. And when I say people, I don’t necessarily mean patients — I mean the people who work at your organizations. … The correct question a good leader should be asking is how do I create an environment in which my people can work at their natural best? Let’s talk about that.
Q. As young professionals want to advance their careers and have a culture of long-term success, how do they maneuver the two when fighting an ingrained culture of short-term focus?A. There is an inherent paradox, conflict with being human, which is: we are at every single moment of every single day, both individuals and members of groups. … Do I do what’s right for me? Or do I do what’s right for others? And there’s an entire school of thought that says, “No, you have to look after yourself first, because only once you’ve looked after yourself, can you look after others.” And there’s an entire school of thought that says, “No, you have to look after others first. Because until you look after others, nobody will look after you.” You’re both right. You’re both wrong. It’s not a question of this or that. It’s the question of both. And this is just one of the paradoxes. Ambition is totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with ambition. There’s nothing wrong with being paid fairly. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be recognized and rewarded for your hard work.
The question is, is the primary benefit of your contributions designed to go to yourself or to go to others?