Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is the author of the popular book Start With Why. In 2014 he followed up with Leaders Eat Last. Mr. Sinek is a leadership and management consultant by profession, and all around inspirational leader by calling. Start With Why is focused on the company as a whole while Leaders Eat Last explores organizational leadership at a deeper level. The focus of the book is building a trusting culture where its inhabitants feel inspired and safe. They feel safe to take risks or to speak up. It espouses the notion that leadership isn’t about titles. A leader is a person who goes first into the unknown. They never ask someone to do something they themselves are unwilling to do. When people feel they have a strong leader they will follow them to the ends of the earth. Not surprisingly he relies on examples from the military to illuminate many of his points.

The book is divided into eight parts. He begins by explaining the human need for safety and walks us through to the journey of becoming a leader and why leaders are necessary. Part 6 dives into five essential leadership lessons. These are basic building blocks of leadership that can make or break a culture, organization, or team. The final two parts of the book examine us as humans. Part 7 and 8 are titled “A Society of Addicts” and “Becoming a Leader” respectively. These six chapters drive to the heart of the matter in terms of what it takes to lead and who is being led.

What Worked For Me

First of all, I really enjoy reading and listening to Simon Sinek. I especially like this book because it so closely aligns with my belief of leadership. While I believe in servant leadership, I have more specific notions of leaders. To quote Mr. Sinek “leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours.” This why captains of ships are last to leave them. Leaders have an unwavering commitment to the safety of those they lead.

The book isn’t just a list of qualities that make a leader. He gets into some of the psychology of why people need leaders. It makes perfect sense. There are leaders in almost every species on earth. People have a need to feel safe. In fact, he talks about the science behind this need and the biochemicals that drive it. Mr. Sinek further explains things that even the most well-intentioned person can do to create mistrust among their followers. It’s as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do.

Lastly, as the book progresses he provides great examples from real life to illustrate his points. There are some events that were fairly public that most may recognize. Some were private events he had visibility to. Either way, they are succinct and complement the message of the book nicely.

What Didn’t Work For Me

So many of these books that are really great at the explanation tend to lack a physical takeaway. Meaning, I would love a checklist or graphic that I can put up in my office or on the fridge. Leaders face tough choices and situations almost daily. At times you need a reminder, something to quickly look at to help you frame your thoughts. I would love to see that for this book. What’s great is the book explains some psychology and biology but it would be great to have a quick reference tool to help focus thoughts.

The Verdict

The book includes a call to action at the end – “if this book inspired you, please pass it on to someone you want to inspire”. I’m doing that now. This book is a must read. I even bought this book for a colleague who I believed was ready to take their leadership talent to the next level. I believe I speak for many when I say suffering a bad leader sucks. There are people who get into leadership roles and are clueless about how to lead people. Unfortunately, given America’s obsession with titles and hierarchy, there are many that believe their title makes them a leader. The sad part is that because things are getting done underneath them despite their ineptness they appear to be good leaders. It is very little we can do about the poor leaders we encounter other than to quit and move on. What we can do is make every effort to understand leadership and display those attributes no matter the level in an organization. While the book is mostly focused on being a leader at work, it is easily adapted for those who are leading any type of organization including one’s home.

Take a minute to watch Simon Sinek’s amazing TED talk.

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Genre: Business, Non-Fiction
Subjects: Leadership

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