Why good leaders make you feel safe

Sinek, S. (2014, March). Why good leaders make you feel safe [video file], Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe#t-499212

The last forty years have witnessed an explosion in research and debate around the topic of leadership and what constitutes effective leadership. In this Ted Talk, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek speaks about the value of trust and safety in a leadership environment. He defines great leadership as a relationship which is born out of a sense of safety and belonging; in turn creating trust and cooperation within the leadership group. Sinek goes on to propose that leadership goes beyond a rank, beyond providing instructions and issuing orders. Great leaders are the ones who look after the people with whom they are entrusted to lead.
Sinek’s definition of leadership closely resembles features of transformational leadership; a theory widely considered to be the gold standard in leadership models. A transformational leader is someone whose interactions with others creates an environment instilled with a high degree of trust, providing a sense of identity and belonging. The idea is that transformational leaders transform their followers through a shared vision and by raising their desires and motivation for achievement and self- development.

What does this have to do with Emotional Intelligence (EI)? If we consider trusting relationships as being at the heart of great leadership, the potential contribution of EI becomes increasingly apparent. In order for a leader to establish trust, they must be able to connect with others on a deeper level. We know that skills related to authentic emotional expression provide a basis for trust while an understanding of others emotions provides insight into what makes people tick. This type of knowledge allows a leader to provide effective inspiration and motivation to those around them. The ability to show empathy for others is another key skill which is important for a leader’s capacity to provide appropriate supports, feedback and encouragement.

The value of emotionally intelligent leadership is grounded in decades of research and supports the need for emerging leaders to be EI trained. The soon to be released Aristotle EI Leadership Development Program was created with this is mind. The program aims to encourage emerging leaders in their final stages of schooling and provide training in the use of EI skills to facilitate quality leadership behaviours.