A Call To Lead Podcast: Sometimes Great Leadership Starts With Asking Why

Jennifer Morgan

The most satisfying thing about holding a leadership position is that every day you have a chance to inspire and develop people. For me, if by the end of each day I’ve done something significant to inspire and develop just one of the thousands of people I’m fortunate to lead at SAP, I’ve succeeded.

Still, the more I learn about what it takes to be an extraordinary leader in the 21st century – a magic mix of intellect, EQ, passion, and wisdom – the more I realize that the journey along the path to great leadership is one that never really ends.

Which leads to this podcast, “A Call to Lead,” and my brilliant and inspiring guest, Simon Sinek. I’m giving a special shout-out about this episode of A Call to Lead because Simon’s insights about leadership in a fast-changing world have been helpful to me, and I think could benefit anyone working to be a better leader.

You may know Simon from his TED Talks, which are viral phenoms, or his best-selling books. Start With Why, his first book, is a guide to discovering and honing purpose to help build extraordinary teams. In his upcoming fifth book, The Infinite Game, Simon explains how to lead in a world where the competition comes and goes, where rules are changeable, and where there is neither a finish line nor definite winners. Simon spoke about playing “the infinite game” as part of a keynote I gave kicking off the year for SAP last month, and in this podcast he talks about that and much more.

Here are five takeaways from this episode of A Call to Lead with Simon:

  • To play the infinite game is really hard. Among all the important leadership traits, courage is No. 1. To do the right thing in the face of pressure is hard. (17:39)
  • Empathy is another critical leadership trait. Our common humanity matters. Whether they’re customers or vendors or employees, we’re dealing with human beings. (17:39)
  • Annual evaluations are a thing of the past, and it’s not so much what the evaluation says, it’s what the trend lines say. If someone had a bad evaluation first and second quarter, but third and fourth quarter start to show signs of looking up, that’s good. You’ll want to give that person a shot to keep improving. (20:55)
  • It’s the responsibility of businesses to provide their people and their customers and their vendors a sense of purpose and a cause that we’re all advancing – something that’s bigger than ourselves, and that’s why all of life’s blood, sweat, and tears are worth it. (24:10)
  • Metrics are very important. Metrics help us measure speed and distance. But they don’t indicate the end of the game. (24:48)

Thanks for joining me and SAP on this podcast series, which is our way of “taking public” a leadership summit, A Call to Lead, that I host annually at SAPPHIRE NOW. Our podcast has CEOs, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and leaders sharing their authentic stories about what it takes to lead in the 21st century.

You can learn more by visiting www.sap.com/acalltolead and you can subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify, and Stitcher. We welcome your feedback on the pod! Tweet me at @JenniferBMorgan and use the hashtag #acalltolead.

And I’m excited about next week’s episode with one of the world’s great authors, thinkers, and leaders – best-selling biographer Walter Isaacson.

Subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google PlaySpotify, and Stitcher.

This story originally appeared on LinkedIn.


Jennifer Morgan

About Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan is responsible for SAP’s strategy, revenue, and customer success in the Americas and Asia Pacific Japan, regions encompassing more than 43,000 employees and nearly 230,000 customers. Jennifer was appointed to the SAP Executive Board in 2017, and, together with Adaire Fox-Martin, leads SAP’s Global Customer Operations. She is a principal driver of SAP’s growth and innovation strategies and works closely with SAP’s development and support leaders to ensure consistent execution of sales and customer operations in the more than 130 countries in which the company operates. In addition to being a member of the Executive Board, Jennifer serves as president of SAP North America, where she has sharpened the region’s focus on growth and innovation for its more than 155,000 customers, and helps preserve a culture that earned SAP North America its first ever listing on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Jennifer was also instrumental in the region securing its place as a leader in the areas of diversity and inclusion through programs like Autism at Work, and particularly the company’s receipt of EDGE certification – a recognition awarded by the World Economic Forum recognizing the company’s commitment to gender equality and equal pay in the workplace.