Here are my notes from Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek. This is one of the top 10 books I’ve read, and it’s going on my culture-shaping list of books every leader should let shape the culture of their organization. The title of the book comes from the military, where officers ate last.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Exceptional organizations have a culture of empathy, where leaders provide cover from above and the people on the ground look out for each other. Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. Letting someone into an organization is like adopting a child.
Marines are better equipped to confront external dangers because they fear no danger from each other. They operate in a circle of safety.
To earn the trust of people, the leaders of an organization must first treat them like people. A toxic culture causes biological survival mechanisms to kick in. Without a circle of safety, people spend too much time and energy protecting themselves from each other. Results are not a result of orders, but the results of being trusted.
The ability of a group of people to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people pull together as a team.
1/3 of employees consider leaving their jobs, but 1.5% actually do. Most people stay stuck in unhealthy environments.
- Progress releases DOPAMINE – the chemical that gives us a good feeling when you find what we are looking for or do something that needs to be done. Accomplishment is fueled by dopamine. But a lasting sense of accomplishment comes from engagement.
- SEROTONIN is the feeling of pride you get when you perceive respect. It makes us feel strong and confident.
- OXYTOCIN is the feeling of friendship, love or deep trust.
- CORTISOL is responsible for the stress and anxiety you feel – the first level of our flight or fight response. It alerts us to possible danger. It’s not meant to stay in our body forever. Many people get accustomed to this. But just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.
“The cost of leadership is self-interest.” – Lieutenant General George Flynn, USMC.
We don’t trust rules, we trust people.
The more we have, the bigger our fences. Too many environments today do more to frustrate than to foster our natural inclinations to trust and cooperate.
When we cannot see the impact tot our decisions, when the lives of people become an abstraction, 65% of us have the capacity to kill someone. [based on the Stanley Milgrim experiment] Don’t work too far out of sight from the people your decisions affect. When numbers are the only thing you see, your ability to perceive impact is diminished.
HOW TO MANAGE IN THE ABSTRACT
- Bring people together. The Internet can’t buy connected relationships.
- Keep it manageable – obey Dunbar’s number of 150.
- Meet the people you help.
- Give them time, not just money. A parent can’t buy the love of their children with gifts and a boss can’t buy the loyalty of an employee with salaries and bonuses.
- Be patient. It probably takes longer than 7 days but shorter than 7 years to fall in love.
In a weak culture, we veer away from doing the right thing and doing the thing that’s right for me.
The leader is responsible for the culture. So goes the leader, so goes the culture. Bad cultures breed bad leaders. 80% of 3M’s patent applications list more than one inventor.
We work to advance the vision of a leader who inspires us and we work to undermine a dictator who means to control us. Perhaps we should measure the health of an organization by the number of quality and healthy relationships inside it.
The goal of a leader is to give no order – Captain Marquet, Sante Fe, who banned “permission to…” in exchange for “I intend to…
Would I want to be in a foxhole with you?
Cooperation doesn’t mean agreement. It means working together to advance the greater good.
Lead the people, not the numbers. What if we judge a leader not on what they do when they ar holding the torch but on what happens after they pass it on? Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives and not numbers.
When short term performance is valued above all else, the well-being of the people will be put second. Short term results don’t truly inspire people. Too many CEO’s seem to skip the hard work of actually leading their employees.
Step 12 is the commitment to help another alcoholic beat the disease. It’s all about service. The connections required to beat addiction must be real.
I highly recommend this book for every leader. Order it here.