Simon Sinek wants to change the world. But unlike other people who simply say this without action, Sinek has authored two bestselling books with the mission of making people feel happier and more fulfilled.
One of these books, and the latest one to be published, is Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together And Others Don’t. The goal? To help build a world where everyone wakes up inspired and wanting to go to work, feels safe and valued in the day, and goes home with the complete feeling of utter fulfillment. This might sound too good to be true, but here’s why Leaders Eat Last isn’t just your ordinary self-help book on leadership.
About Simon Sinek and the Beginning of the Principles of Leaders Eat Last
To get a grasp of what Leaders Eat Last is about, you must get to know Simon Sinek. Today, he is a graduate-class instructor at the Columbia University, a contributor to major publications such as The New York Times and Washington Post, a bestselling author, a trained ethnographer, and a motivational speaker.
His first book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, became a national bestseller and challenged people’s attitudes on leadership and people’s individual perspective on their jobs. Prior to the book’s publication, his speech on a TED event was very much praised, becoming the site’s 2nd most viewed video, with a total of 15 million views as of today.
In his worldwide travels since the book’s launch, Sinek observed a prevailing culture surrounding organizations that were successful, and a culture of those that failed. He noticed that some teams had members who were putting themselves on the line for the betterment of the group, while other teams simply crumbled despite the many incentives being offered to its members.
The answer became clear to Sinek during a conversation with a Marine Corps general wherein the latter said, “Officers eat last.” And thus, an idea was born.
In the chow hall of the military, senior leaders are the ones to eat last, a practice that follows their main dogma of sacrificing their own comfort and even their lives for the good of those under their care.
Similar to Sinek’s Start With Why, he illustrates his concepts through inspiring real life stories, detailed case studies, and a wide range of stories from organizations in the military, manufacturing, to the government, and investment banking.
Using psychological and anthropological explanations on what a truly successful leader is, Sinek states examples of how the earliest tribes of hunters and gatherers worked together to survive. If the culture was a man for himself – a typical description of the workforce today – they wouldn’t have survived for very long.
According to Sinek, while the world and our environment have changed, our basic biology has not. He points out and places importance on the 5 primary survival hormones that work to benefit and destroy the group. These hormones are endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and cortisol – carefully explained to help us understand how they work to promote team cohesion or conflict.
Important Points of the Book
Sinek explains that leadership is not about power or rank, but it’s about making the workplace more humane. As a leader, many think that the success of the company is the most important thing and must be achieved at all costs. When numbers are down, leaders often lay off workers to maintain the income of the company. According to Sinek, this creates an environment where members feel agitated and anxious when doing their jobs, creating stress that promotes competition and the damaging philosophy of “every man for himself.”
What Sinek observed in the successful companies he studied, was that a world of paranoia and cynicism does not benefit the group in the long run. Sure, laying off will solve short-term problems but what most leaders overlook is the fact that unhappy and anxious workers lead to an unstable company.
Sinek introduces his “Circle of Safety” philosophy – the main premise of the book. He encourages leaders to put its people first over the company. Creating a culture of trust and security will bring about happy and satisfied members who will be more than willing to contribute to the greater good of all rather than their own self-interests.
According to this philosophy, leadership is like parenting. Parents sacrifice their own interests to put the needs of their children first, fostering an environment of trust and security that promotes a well-adjusted and happy child. Just like in a company setting, when you put your subordinates’ needs over the company’s, you are building a loyalty and a purpose within them that will make them feel valued and respected – in turn, making them love their job enough to think past their own personal needs.
Sinek suggests, when a worker is doing poorly, laying off is not the answer, but coming to his aid is.
Pros and Cons
1 – Helps leaders find solutions to disgruntled and stressed employees or members;
2 – Uses biological, psychological, and anthropological concepts to explain principles;
3 – Simple, practical, and easy-to-follow;
4 – Uses real life stories of past and present leaders running companies that are successful with people who are satisfied with their jobs;
5 – Thought-provoking and inspiring.
1 – Does not provide too much “How-to’s” or actionable tips
Leaders Eat Last will change your mind about leadership. Usually, leaders are associated with stoic personalities that are fearful and powerful. Sinek challenges you to change your perspective of an effective leader by showing real life examples of companies and organizations that change this popular notion.
With the Circle of Safety concept, Sinek transforms the work and group environment into a more humane and safer world. When you provide a circle of safety and security, you are building relationships that are based on trust and loyalty – something that no amount of money can buy.
If you’re a head of a company, a leader of a group, or a teacher, Leaders Eat Last will transform your perspective and possibly change your attitude and approach to running your group. With the main goal of keeping everyone happy and secure, Sinek has successfully placed a human face to the world of profit and competition.
I highly recommend this book. It will give you a whole new perspective on leadership
Simple, practical, and easy-to-follow
Clear concise explanation of "Circle of Safety" philosophy
Thought-provoking and inspiring
Does not provide too much "How-to's" or actionable tips