Below are five must-have components of a will, if we are to succeed in the infinite game ... from Simon Sinek’s Book, “the infinite game”.
More than your “why” or purpose, a just cause is what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. It’s the passion or hunger that burns inside that compels you to do what you do. Your just cause is what powers you to outlast your competitors. It propels you forward in the face of adversity and empowers you to persevere when you feel like giving up.
Playing the infinite game requires leaders to prioritize the just cause above anything else. They are willing to stand up to the pressures of the Board, Wall Street, or popular sentiment, and stay true to their cause. This struggle is often too great for a single person to tackle alone, so it requires all the leaders of the organization to band together and acts in alignment.
Being a vulnerable team doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for everyone to walk around crying. It means you’ve invested the time and energy to build a culture in your organization where people feel safe to be themselves. They can admit they don’t know something or that they made a mistake. They can take appropriate risks without fear of retribution or retaliation. If your people don’t feel safe, that is your fault, not theirs.
In the infinite game, adversaries are acknowledged and treated with respect, but our success or failure isn’t measured against them. Ultimately we are competing against ourselves, and our success or failure should be measured against our just cause. Our adversaries may push us to improve our products, services, marketing, etc., but in the infinite game, we are constantly striving to become a better version of ourselves in order to fulfill our just cause.
Too many organizations pursue a variable cause with a fixed strategy, rather than pursuing a fixed cause with a variable strategy. Having an open playbook means leaders and organizations are willing to have flexible strategies and plans that change as needed to pursue their just cause. An open playbook also means you are transparent with your strategies, so all members of the team can literally be on the same page. Leaders resist being too transparent with information because they fear losing control. They distrust how people will use that information so they hold it close to the vest. That only results in people making sub-optimal decisions because they don’t know all the plays in the playbook.
You can win every battle but still, lose the war. The goal is not to beat your competition; the goal is to outlast them.
So what does it mean to play the infinite game as a leader? It means you leave something behind that outlasts your finite presence or contributions. An infinite leader builds a culture so strong, that when the leader is no
longer there, the culture lives on. Infinite leaders commit to their just cause. The work produced by striving for that just cause has the indelible fingerprints of the leader and lasts far beyond the time of the leader’s tenure.
What game are you playing?