Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Leaders Eat Last takes a look at the effects of leadership, notably a trusting environment and the value it provides for people. Sinek touches on some chemical aspects of the brain noting cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Without diving too deep to lose the reader, we see how chemically we as humans react to different aspects of our environment. We see how being purposeful in creating a trusting environment leads to a more dedicated, passionate, productive work environment. This is illustrated due to the chemical effects that occur within our brain, but we also see examples to illustrate the point as well. Fundamentally there are leaders and organizations getting it right, but too often there are others who are failing. Sinek identifies the circle of safety that can help people to rely and trust each other. In doing so, their efforts can be directed outward and success can result. Where there is a lack of circle of safety, people compete with each other and are constantly on the look out from others who may serve as a threat. This limits the ability to reach our true potential. The good leaders see employees as people. Not just numbers on sheets. They do what they can to enable an environment that fosters safety and success. The return is greater productivity, loyalty, passion, and enjoyment.
How it influenced me
While reading Leaders Eat Last there were many moments I was thinking YES! This is right! This is how it can be, how it should be! I then find it frustrating how resources and information are available and yet so many leaders still lead with poor habits. As I read more, I added to my knowledge but also had moments of reflection. One moment stood out to me as I had to question how effective I was. I had been operating from a place of unclear formal leadership roles and responsibilities. I know everyone can be a leader regardless of position and have often leveraged this in the past. The issue was how purposeful I was being as a leader. Perhaps I was using the lack of formal guidance as an excuse to not put the effort into my leadership. I realized that perhaps due to my own self-focus I had not been as purposeful and effective as a leader as I ought to be. This concept of being self-focused is something I’ve discussed with numerous people, often after they feel slighted by someone else. I remind them that people often don’t have nefarious motives, but just act in their own interest. In acting in their own interest, it may result in us feeling slighted. This was an enlightening moment for me as I considered how my own self-focus was taking away my purposeful leadership. The book had a powerful call to action from my interpretation whereas there are issues, yet it is on each of us to be better. If more people act to create circles of safety, we will benefit from it. It is little moments over time that make a difference in culture, just as with leadership. Sure, if you’re at the top and have the power you can enact policy change; however, it is the actions daily that matter as well and setting the condition. Overall, I’m walking away with a greater sense of certainty in myself and the impact I can have towards creating a better environment.