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Literature of Leadership - December Book Review

The Infinite Game. Simon Sinek. (2019, Kindle Edition)

This newly released book by leadership guru Simon Sinek should definitely be added to your leadership library. In The Infinite Game, Sinek draws on the work of religious scholar/philosopher James P. Carse (author of the 1986 book, Finite and Infinite Games) to apply the same theoretical lens to the work of leaders.

The book begins by establishing how finite and infinite games apply to life in general. According to Sinek, “Finite Games” are played by known players who operate under fixed rules, and with an agreed-upon objective that, when reached, ends the game. “Infinite Games”, by contrast, are played by both known and unknown players who operate under no fixed rules (albeit some governing conventions or laws may apply), and where the primary objective is to perpetuate the game over an infinite time frame. Thus, in infinite games, there is no such thing as “winning”, or “beating the competition”, or being “number one”. Leaders with an infinite mindset set up their organizations to succeed beyond their own lifetimes. They strive to build organizational capacity to survive one set of leaders, and to inspire the next generation of leaders to “stay in the game” by contributing to the organization’s ongoing success.

To adopt an infinite mindset, Sinek advances five (5) essential leadership practices that frame the core chapters of the book. These include:

  1. Advance a “Just Cause” (i.e., a compelling vision of the future that does not yet exist)

  2. Build “Trusting Teams” (i.e., where people feel safe to express vulnerability)

  3. Study your “Worthy Rivals” (i.e., another player, strategically selected, that is worthy of comparison to inform improvement)

  4. Prepare for “Existential Flexibility” (i.e., the ability to shift an entire business model to advance a Just Cause)

  5. Demonstrate “The Courage to Lead” (i.e., a willingness to take risks for the good of an unknown future)

Image source: Amazon

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