Do leaders need to win?

Earlier this month in Saudi Arabia, I held the first #responsivecoffee event, where passionate people get together over some good coffee to discuss how they can make a difference in their organisations for the better. 

One topic we discussed was how it’s important to create a culture where people feel safe to try new things without being afraid to fail.

I was told a story by Bander, at Saudia Aerospace about how he’s recently taken up cycling as a hobby and after a few months of practicing he decided to take part in a race. Come race day, he takes his young daughters to watch him and they were so excited to see their daddy in action. Bander starts the race well, putting everything he has in to winning, but little over half way the experience and fitness of the other racers comes in to action and Bander isn’t going home with any trophies today. His daughters are waiting for him at the finish line, disheartened from seeing the man that they look up to defeated, they said, “Daddy, why didn’t you win, we thought you would?”. Bander knew he wasn’t going to win the race, but he told us that he wanted his girls to see that it’s ok that he didn’t win. He told his girls, “it doesn’t matter that I didn’t win, I tried my best and that’s all I ask of you”.

Besides this story nearly bringing everyone to tears, it reminded me of a Simon Sinek TED talk of why good leaders make you feel safe.