Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

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TL;DR

I love Simon Sinek books. I read Start With WHY a couple of years ago and apply it to marketing and sales techniques at work to this day. Leaders Eat Last is more focused on how you can create a great culture within your team at work. I think the important thing to note is that all of the principles he gives can be applied by anyone from the c-level all the way down to individual contributors. The gist is that you need to create a safe environment for your team to work in where they feel comfortable pushing their limits and growing in order to have a great culture. Fear based leadership that is focused purely on profit will not pay off in the long run. Simon does an amazing job breaking down why creating this type of culture is important and provides insights into how you can make it happen in your workspace.

What does a great culture look like?

1. Protection from above - leaders must always provide cover from above for all of their reports. This creates trust that no matter what, their leader will have their back. This allows everyone to act with empathy because they know anyone else would put themselves on the line for them.

2. Employees are people too - empathy and trust need to be the standard. In order to lead, you must have faith in your team until that is broken. When people feel valued, they will come together, collaborate more, and everyone including the business will benefit greatly.

3. Belonging - the circle of safety. Leaders need to create a culture built on trust and collaboration to ensure every member feels safe in their role. The circle of safety needs to extend to every individual in and organization. This creates an enrollment where ideas fly freely and people are able to execute without worrying about any internal politics.

4. Control - feeling like you have control over your work is a key to stress reduction in the work place. Those who feel they are just following orders will become more and more stressed while those who are empowered to think creatively and be decisive are less stressed, and they are also generally more productive.

5. When enough was enough - ever since the beginning of humankind, we have worked together to get past obstacles and grow. While we are no longer friends for survival and shelter, we still have the same need to collaborate with others. A least must ensure collaboration is at the heart of every organization.

What bursts of chemicals drive humans?

6. The chemicals of reward - as humans, we are internally driven by the activities that generate endorphins and diamine. When it comes to social interaction, we are driven by social activities that generate serotonin and oxytocin. Serotonin makes us feel proud and respected, and the move we feel this at work, the more driven we will be in our role. Oxytocin is generated when we have positive interactions. Leaders must work to consistently drive these feelings for every team member, and the team will be driven to make each other proud while generating stronger connections.

7. The big C - cortisol is the chemical of anxiety and paranoia. The more cortisol we are pursuing the more jumpy, stressed, aggressive, and worried we are. Leaders must ensure they're creating a workplace that feels safe and that everyone feels in this safe circle. Work life balance, honesty from leadership, and making sure people feel secure in their position are a few ways to make people feel safe on your team.

What does a true leader look like?

8. Why we have leaders - a true leader is someone that's willing to make sacrifices for the rest of the group. Weak leaders reserve perks for their inner circle. Strong leaders ensure everyone in the group enjoys the same perks. When a least protects the tribe, the group will return that action with loyalty, trust. and respect for not only the leader but the entire tribe.

9. The courage to do the right thing - when you show the willingness to do the right thing, no matter how hard it is. You will build trust with both customers and teammates. Following your morals and gaining trust are far more important in the long run than small, cheap victories.

Why does creating a great environment matter?

10. Snowmobile in the desert - when it comes down to it, people are a snowmobile meant for the snow. If you drop them in the desert, they're not going to max out their potential. As a leader, you need to create the right environment for your team to succeed.

How did we get here?

11. The boom before the bust - the baby boomer generation started the change of the working landscape. The generation before was all about service and teamwork, and the boomers grew up in a time where you were focused on bettering your own life. Once the boomers took over the workforce, it became more of a dog eat dog world compared to the generation before.

12. The boomers all grown up - as the boomers took over most corporations, the focus became the bottom line instead of the growth of the people within the company. This sort of organization rewards individual achievement which leads to people cutting corners and doing anything to hit their individual goals. It creates a me vs you environment and reduces teamwork.

13. Abstraction kills - corporations have become so big that people are separated many abstractions from the people they affect. When people are taught to obey orders and don't have a connections with the people those orders affect, they are capable of terrible things. Think about oil lobbyists, the NRA, and companies producing for that is terrible for us. They're just chatting the bottom line without a car in the world for those that are affected. This is not because they're bad people, they're just following orders and have no connection to those that are affected.

14. Modern abstraction - a weak culture creates a command and control environment. Uncertainty, silos, and politics create this type of environment. This enables people to do whatever is best for the businesses bottom line without thinking about the overall impact. Companies with this command and control environment are generally less innovative, and the team members are more stressed.

15. Managing the abstraction - as social animals, it is essential for us to have direct contact with those who our work affects. It allows us to fully understand the impact and be motivated by it. As your organization grows, it is essential to find ways to show people how their work is affecting others both internally and externally.

What did we learn from the past 50 years of corporate environments?

16. Leadership lesson 1, create a safe environment - as humans, our actions are directly affected by the environment we are in. When a leader build a culture built on respect, empathy, and strong morals, they will build a strong culture. Ensuring people feel safe sharing their succusses and failures with everyone will help drive collaboration and idea sharing.

17. Leadership Lesson 2, trust creates pride - we work to empower a leader that inspires us, or we work to oust a dictator who controls us. A true leader will inspire and empower her employees while a dictator will try to control them. The leaders have all the authority while the ground level team members have all the information. One key to being a successful leader is creating feedback loops from top to bottom and ensuring everyone feels heard and takes ownership of their duties.

18. Leadership lesson 3, integrity matters - telling the truth is the number one thing you can do to build a strong integrity. Even when you make a mistake, being honest is more affective I'm the long run even if it hurts you in the short run. This will build trust even if it makes others unhappy in the moment.

19. Leadership lesson 4, friends matter - enemies fight, friends cooperate. Our Congress used to all live in Washington DC and spend time with one another outside of at work. This allowed them to understand one another and work together to get laws passed. Now, they have become polarized and can do almost nothing together. It has caused a serious decrease in bills passed and caused the public approval of the Congress to plummet. It is important to understand and accept your team members for who they are even when you don't always agree. This will allow you to work together to serve the greater good.

20. Leadership lesson 5, lead the people, not the numbers - command and control leadership styles focused on meeting the numbers outperform empowering environments in the short term, but over time, you end up with an organization built on fear where people feel trapped and can't think for themselves. People will put short term improvements over all else rather than taking the time to accomplish meaningful projects. Layoffs and hitting numbers may help in the short term, but creating a great culture with inspired people will pay off huge in the long run. Customers will never love a company unless the employees love it first.

21. At the center of all of our problems is us - performance based incentive structures that are focused on individual results create a fear bases culture where all people are out for themselves. These create silos and reduce the chances of people offering to help each other. It is better to offer company wide incentives that create a sense of teamwork and incentivize people to work together.

22. At any expense - when striving for change, it is important to think about the greater impact on those you are affecting. When you're focused on making things better for everyone you interact with rather than just yourself, you will do more good and have a greater impact.

What is the risk for the next generation?

23. The abstract generation - our technology addicted generation Y has a new issue at hand. We are driven to do good, but it's almost always instant gratification through a text or like rather than a genuine interaction. This will create a generation of isolated individuals that are unhappy due to the disconnection. We need to defend against this by taking on bigger challenges and chasing more meaningful ways of getting gratification through human to human interaction and longer term projects. Investing real time and energy creates a more meaningful form of gratification that helps us feel more connected and happy.

24. Step 12 - in alcoholics anonymous, step 12 is helping another get over their addiction. This is the crucial point where most do not relapse. Service to our peers helps us build caring relationships with them and also helps us feel better about ourselves. Serving your peers will not only help you build trust and connection, but it will help you feel less stressed and happier with yourself.

25. Shared struggle - when we share hardship, we grow closer together. And it feels good. When a group comes together in times of need, they will enjoy the time they spent together even though it was not a great time. Now that we live in a world of abundance, we need to reframe our visions to get these same interactions without the struggles. The key here is giving your team a sense of purpose with a clear vision that seems challenging yet still possible.

26. We need more leaders - becoming a great leader will not happen over night, but if you follow these principles, you will slowly generate momentum. And once you get momentum, you can build on that little by little.

Review by Tyler Diderich

If you enjoyed this preview, you can use my referral link to buy this book Amazon here: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't