Leaders are important, especially right now. As the world grapples with remote working and our changed environment, with grief and loss, with uncertainty – your people are looking to you for leadership.
If you’re in sales and marketing, you should definitely pivot your pitch right now. Reviewing a leadership book is a pivot from the usual Magnify Sales Book Club offerings, but it’s also central to what many businesses are currently struggling with. How do you lead people when you’re not around them? How can you help them when you can’t see them?
Aside from getting a good tech stack onboard, Simon Sinek’s book ‘Leaders Eat Last’ is a timely reminder of the type of leaders that we all need, and the type of leaders that we all need to be in our teams and families.
What’s Special about this month’s book?
This book is very pertinent for this time in history. Right now, much of the world is in lockdown due to Covid-19. Business and sales as we know it has been paused, turned on its head, changed forever. Many of us long to go back to normal. What if ‘normal’ is over? How will we shape our new normal?
We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we can still choose to be the kind of leader we’d like to have at this uncertain time.
Simon Sinek encourages readers to create a ‘Circle of Safety’ at their workplace – a culture where your team/your organization is safe together. Any energy we need to spend in fighting should be spent in fighting dangers together, creating unity and therefore a stronger organisation.
As Simon Sinek says – ‘Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.’ – page 288
Book Details for ‘Leaders Eat Last’
Book Title – ‘Leaders Eat Last’
Author – Simon Sinek
Publication Date – 2014
Publisher – Penguin Random House
Who is Simon Sinek?
‘Imagine a world in which the vast majority of us wake up inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.’ As an author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek has a focus on helping people feel inspired and fulfilled at work.
Simon Sinek’s five books provide a platform to develop your leadership:
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – (2009)
- Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (2014)
- Together is better: A little book of Inspiration (2016)
- Find your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Your Purpose for You and Your Team (2018)
- The Infinite Game (2019)
What is the book’s premise?
That leaders who put their people first – leaders who eat last – create better organisations.
– Foreword by George J. Flynn, Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
Simon goes right to the heart of what your people value – safety and inspiration over money:
‘It turns out, even when offered big titles and bigger salaries, people would rather work at a place in which they feel like they belong. People would rather feel safe among their colleagues, have the opportunity to grow and feel a part of something bigger than themselves than work in a place that simply makes them rich.’ – page 74
Does the book deliver on its premise?
Yes. If you want to create a culture at your business where your staff willingly work with you to achieve your vision, Simon Sinek shows you how to become the sort of leader that your people actually want to follow.
This book will inspire you with stories of leadership from the military and from businesses, demonstrating the lengths that people will go to when they know that leader truly has their back.
‘Leaders are the ones willing to look out for those to the let of them and those to the right of them. They are often willing to sacrifice their own comfort for ours, even when they disagree with us. Trust is not simply a matter of shared opinions. Trust is a biological reaction to the belief that someone has our well-being at heart. Leaders are the ones who are willing to give up something of their own for us. Their time, their energy, their money, maybe even the food off their plate. When it matters, leaders eat last.’ – page 82/83
‘And when we feel the Circle of Safety around us, we offer our blood and sweat and tears and do everything we can to see our leader’s vision come to life. The only thing our leaders ever need to do is remember whom they serve and it will be our honour and pleasure to serve them back.’ – page 83
What is the author’s voice like?
Encouraging and inspirational, Simon Sinek also makes sure we’ve got loads of practical examples to see how the Circle of Safety creates better work cultures in all kinds of workplaces.
There’s a very helpful discussion on the four primary chemical incentives in our bodies – endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin (chapter six). Cortisol, the stress and anxiety hormone, creates such damage that Simon has devoted the whole of chapter seven to this.
In writing this book, Simon is being a leader himself. His honest tone goes into the background of why he believes that true leaders eat last – so that you can make an informed choice to be the kind of leader your people want to follow.
Any memorable quotes?
So many great quotes in this book, especially now that Covid-19 has resulted in New Zealand households self-isolating in our homes and apartments.
CHAOS ENSUES WHEN OUR CIRCLE OF SAFETY IS BROKEN
‘When we feel like we are outside a Circle of Safety, with no sense of belonging and no sense that others love and care for us, we feel out of control, abandoned and left for dead. And when we feel that isolated, we become desperate.’ – page 270
HOW TO LEAD MILENNIALS
‘The Millennials who are entering or are already in the workforce require employers who are empathetic, understand the challenges that this generation faces, create Circles of Safety and find ways to make the most of the many positive attributes and unique skills that Millennials bring to the table … We must stop blaming each other and start helping each other. It would seem that in the dire scenario, we are our own best hope.’ – page 271
‘To human beings, the safety a strong tribe provides its members makes the tribe stronger and better equipped to deal with the dangers and uncertainty of the outside world. The reason good leaders do well in hard times is obvious. Their people willingly commit their blood, sweat and tears to see the tribe, the company, advance and grow stronger. They do so not because they have to … but because they want to. And as a result, the stronger tribe, the stronger company, is able to guarantee a greater sense of safety and protection to even more people for even longer. Fear, in contrast, can hurt the very innovation and progress so many leaders of companies claim they are trying to advance with every re-org.’ – pages 86-87
What are some insights I can get from reading this book?
We just simply need to serve each other, and genuinely care for each other. This is what will make our organisations stronger.
EVERYONE WANTS TO FEEL SAFE
‘Leaders want to feel safe too. No matter what place we occupy in the pecking order, every single one of us wants to feel like we are valued by the others in the group.’ – page 30
BEING A LEADER IS LIKE BEING A PARENT
‘This is what it means to be a leader. This is what it means to build a strong company. Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own … in sickness and in health.’ – page 20
PUT YOUR PEOPLE FIRST
‘Sacrifice the numbers to save the people and not sacrifice the people to save the numbers.’ (page 20). This is a particularly tough challenge in the light of our current economic environment. Several jobs have already been lost. These are hard calls for leaders to make, Simon Sinek would no doubt say to make these tough decisions with a heart for your people as much as you are able.
‘The leaders of great organizations do not see people as a commodity to be managed to help grow the money. They see the money as the commodity to be managed to help grow their people. This is why performance really matters. The better the organization performs, the more fuel there is to build an even bigger, more robust organization that feeds the hearts and souls of those who work there. In return, their people give everything they’ve got to see the organization grow … and grow … and grow.’ – page 21
WE CAN ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER THROUGH HARDSHIP
‘We can put up with a great many hardships when we have a partner to help see us through. In fact, it not only makes the hardships feel easier to endure, but it actually helps us manage the stress and the anxiety.’ – page 276
ALL OF US CAN BE PART OF THE CHANGE WE’D LIKE TO SEE
‘We must all start today to do little things for the good of others … one day at a time. Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.’ – page 288
How relevant is this book right now?
Extremely relevant. Some of us are suffering as a result of Covid-19 and will find this book particularly moving. If there’s a book for our time in history, ‘Leaders Eat Last’ is right up there with the best of them.
There’s a discussion about the stock market crash in 2008 (page 85). Simon Sinek also unpacks the spread of puerperal fever, an epidemic that swept through Europe and America some 200 years ago (pages 227-229).
Time and again we see that the challenges we’re grappling with right now have been similarly faced by our forebears. ‘We need to look to ourselves for answers’ Simon says on page 229.
Did the book live up to expectations?
Most definitely. In fact, re-reading this book now that Covid-19 is impacting the world made it even more meaningful.
‘Leaders Eat Last’ will inspire you to be the change that you’d like to see, and to also see that it’s possible. This book is an encouragement to sales and business leaders, and to leaders in all areas that – Yes, we can emerge from this time with new, better organisations.
Who would you recommend this book to?
I’d recommend this book to all sales and business leaders
- Who want to grow a healthy organisation
- Who want to develop a high-achieving sales culture
- Who want to attract and retain the best talent after Covid-19
- Who want to become better leaders – in your family, at work, in your life.
Who should buy this book?
To paraphrase Robert Tighe’s excellent book review last month:
- Bad leaders should buy it for themselves
- Good leaders should buy it to take their leadership to the next level
- Great leaders should buy it to remind themselves of where they want their business to be
- All leaders who want to come through the Covid-19 with a stronger, more resilient and higher-performing team
Where can I buy this book?
For less than $20 you can start the journey to becoming a better leader.
Here’s the link on Mighty Ape
Recommended snacks to accompany reading this book?
Question – What would a real leader who eats last, eat as a snack, while we’re all self-isolating to defeat Covid-19?
Answer – A shared platter of whatever snacks you can find in your pantry or fridge. Pieces of apple, pear, dried raisins, chunks of chocolate, some cold sausage from last night’s tea, cheddar cheese, tomato sauce. And whatever you’re currently drinking.
Make sure to share this with the people in your ‘self-isolation bubble’ (if you’re in NZ, you’ll know what we mean!).
If you’re living on your own – jump on a zoom call with a friend and ‘share’ the platter while you’re on the live call with them.