This is an excellent read. Combining a liitle science and anthropology with lessons from the business, political and military worlds, the author makes clear the benefits which occur when leaders put people head of short term profit - especially of short term profit to themselves and their immediate sub group.
As Simon Sinek says, it is the times we work together to achieve a team goal which stay with us as our best working memories - working late and just achieving the deadline - having a vison and collectively finding the answer are so much more ultimately satisfying that the dopamine hits of short term individual gains.
Drawing on examples from Apple, Goldman Sachs, GE, Walmart, Microsoft and many other organisations, including the US Congress, Sinek shows that collaboration and co-operation in pursuit of a meaningful vision work much better than quick fixes and headline grabbing behaviours.
I found this to be a better book than his previous work Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action- better written, much less repetitive, and more thought provoking.
This should be essential reading for anyone in positions of responsibility, or who want to be.
on 15 July 2015
On the surface, this appears to be another fashionable, theory-of-the-month book. In reality, it's a practical guide to helping create leaders out of people, using real world examples. Everybody wants to be leader, everybody wants to be the great captain of a team, or the head of business that brings home the bacon.
Unfortunately, leadership is tricky to define. To his credit, Sinek recognises this and doesn't beat around the bush. Instead, he hopes to encourage people to think critically on this issue and adopt some of the traits of history's great leaders. The olf adage that some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them, was tailor made for this book.
Practical, entertaining, and refreshingly honest. There's something for everybody in this book.
I agree with Simon Sinek: "Too many of the environments in which we work today frustrate our natural inclinations to trust and cooperate." He notes that since the Boomers took over the running business and government, the U.S. (and much of the world) has experienced three significant stock market crashes in 1987, 2000, and 2008. "A new set of values and norms has been established for our businesses and our society -- a system of dopamine-driven performance that rewards us for individual achievement at the expense of the balancing effects of serotin and oxytocin that reward us for working together and building bonds of trust and loyakty. It is this imbalance that causes stock markets to crash."
Sinek carefully explains how and why this chemical imbalance in our society has occurred and then suggests hat he thinks must be done about it. "The big Boomer generation has, by accident, created a world quite out of balance" but "we can't simply blame an entire generation for the ills we face today." I agree. It has taken several decades for this imbalance yo occur and it will probably take several decades to correct it. How? That's what this book is all about.
It's title suggests to me the type of leader Robert Greenleaf describes in an essay written in 1970: "The servant-leader is servant [begin italics] first [end italics]... It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve [begin italics] first [end italics]. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is [begin italics] leader [end italics]first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions...The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Sinek's coverage.
o The Value of Empathy (Pages 7-8)
o We See What We Want to See, and, The Awesome Responsibility (12-17)
o Circle of Safety: U.S. Marines (18-25)
o It's All About the Group, and, Our Chemical Dependency (35-37)
o Our Goals Must Be Tangible (42-45)
o Generosity and Other Ways to Build Trust (51-52)
o Eating Last Is Repaid with Loyalty and Hard Work (68-70)
o Know When to Break the Rules (72-75)
o The Boom Before the Bust (81-84)
o The Eight-Hundred-Pound Boomer in the Room (84-89)
o When Leaders Eat First, and, Dehumanization (94-96)
o Abstraction Kills (97-101)
o Bad Cultures Breed Bad Leaders, and, A Culture Protected (133-136)
o True Power (141-147)
o Enemies Fight. Friends Cooperate (162-165)
When concluding his thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Simon Sinek observes, "Leadership, true leadership, is not the bastion of those who sit at the top. It is the responsibility of anyone who belongs to the group. Though those with formal rank may have the authority to work at greater scale, each of us has a responsibility to keep the Circle of Safety strong [i.e. one that provides mutual support and, when needed, mutual protection]. 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."
Robert Greenleaf's remarks quoted earlier are even more relevant now than they were 43 years ago and the same is true of my favorite passage in Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching, written around 6th century BC:
"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves."
on 19 October 2014
This starts out as a very promising book to explain why leadership is about looking out for your people and what happens when you don't. It's grounded in real world examples that most people in most walks of life and at normal stages of their careers can understand.
However, it seems to then lose focus and talk exclusively about CEOs. Most of us will never be a CEO and the leadership challenge we face is different to that of CEOs.
It also becomes incredibly repetitive very quickly. It also becomes a long critique of the financial crisis of 2008 and whilst interesting the link to leadership, made in the book, is tenuous at best.
Great nuggets throughout but better editing would have made for a shorter, punchier and overall better book.
on 11 January 2014
"Leaders Eat Last" written by Simon Sinek is a book about leadership that does not offer any new theories or principles but instead skillfully explains what makes the difference between good and bad leadership and how to help an organization or people that you manage to feel happier and more satisfied.
Before reading the book I wasn't aware that the Huffington Post has included Sinek's book into the list of "The 12 Business Books to Read in 2014" (moreover in the first place), but after I read it that doesn't surprise me because it's truly a book for everyone who works with people and manage them.
In the book foreword, retired US General George J. Flynn nicely wrote that an organization's success or failure is based on leadership excellence and not managerial acumen - and this is one of the common situations in business when leadership is equated with management, which, although in many ways are overlapping and complement each other, are not the words that mean the same thing.
For this reason, the author in his book explains why management can't be enough to sustain any organization in the long run; he explains the human behavior elements that are causing organization to perform well over certain period of time, but lose its breath in the long run, the reason being their people lacking the good leadership.
The author simply defines leadership - it's an environment where people are important, their thinking matters, where values are shared and together they are passing through the good and bad, knowing that it is all an integral part of every job and life.
In his book Simon Sinek is often referencing to the military examples which is not surprising because in that old human profession the term of leader and the leadership is the most prominent, even though sometimes is not supported by a formal hierarchy - many times happened that in the most difficult times of military conflicts someone leadership managed to raise the morale of those around and the battle that seemed long lost was won.
In "Leaders Eat Last" divided into eight chapters, with significantly last chapter named "Becoming a Leader," author explained many aspects of leadership, including human biology and different chemicals that occur in our bodies evolved through countless generations forcing us to do things even us sometimes not certain why.
And therefore, if after this book you stop rushing to lunch, letting your colleagues in front to catch the best pieces that will mean you are one step closer to become a leader because they always think of others first, putting their own interest aside to protect us.
on 17 October 2015
Simon Sinek writes engagingly - every chapter begins with a fascinating anecdote, the writing is fluent. But in sum, each chapter is arguing the same, bleeding obvious, point: in order to lead well, you need to have empathy with those you lead; and the more autonomy and trust you give your staff, the happier and more productive they will be. I had already bought that concept before I read the book, and didn't need him to reinforce either the psychological science behind that, or the moral principle. I'm afraid I gave up about half way through.
What I was looking for was some ideas about what you do when you want to trust your staff, but you still have to manage risk. Every organisation has ways of preventing things going wrong - mostly in the form of guidance, audit, quality assurance systems, rules (e.g. Shell's '12 mandatory life-saving rules' which work to prevent avoidable fatalities) even external audit, regulators, even Parliamentary scrutiny. When things go seriously wrong, may Governments reach for the formal inquiry, and then more guidance, lessons learned and audit systems get set up to try and prevent all that happening again.
These are all put in place because, in the end, you cannot trust everyone to do the right thing all the time. They may not know what the right thing is. For example, they weren't taught it, or the right thing is not actually what is intuitively right. Or they may have been told it but forget it, or there are counter-cultural habits that are more dominant. Or a very small sub-group may be opportunistic or maliciously bad. Creating an inspector over your shoulder cracks that problem, but also with a significant downside. All those systems - QA, audit, risk assurance, inspection, even performance management and balanced scorecards - communicate, 'we don't trust you'. Managers start looking at numbers, RAG ratings and spreadsheets instead of their people. I've learnt that you can't just empower willy nilly; you have to do it within a framework. Simon offered me little for how to be trusting, and set clear boundaries, at the same time. It needed to have more suggestions and more practical advice.
Last, more minor and personal point. The first example that Simon gives is of a US air pilot bombing a load of Afghans to save some of his fellow US soldiers, and the pilot is praised for empathy. The pilot had constantly brought to mind the possible suffering of his colleagues under fire, to inspire himself to fly below the cloud in a dangerous mountainous setting. It may speak to some but I'm afraid It didn't speak to me. I don't find the idea of bombing people an inspiring act of leadership that I wish to emulate, and as a non-American, I don't particularly identify with someone from the American military. Also, the remaining examples - though excellently written up - were largely from the private sector. Nothing that I saw (bear in mind I gave up half way through) was from the public or non profit sectors.
on 28 July 2015
Simon put into words what I knew to be right but had long been advised not to do as it wasn't the way business is done (old thinking). I have since seen the light and first articulated my "Why" after reading "Start with Why" by Sinek and this book although different in lots of ways, reinforces and explains what my gut had always known. Thank you Simon for providing me greater clarity. I'll be spreading the word! I recommend to all who believe that they have an open mind to read this book - do it now!
on 8 June 2014
Some interesting ideas, setting out a different way of looking at how teams work best. I agree with other reviewers who say that the author repeats himself - it got quite tedious after a while (I got the point already!!) I was hoping that he would set out a concrete strategy of HOW to implement his main idea of a Circle of Safety - even just a summary list of practical steps that could be take - but no. All that was noted were a few points such as - avoid layoffs / redundancies, have social times together and set out a 'big vision'. Shame - an opportunity wasted.
on 13 April 2014
I watched several videos on youtube of simon, talking about the content of this book and his previous one too. it's changed my perspective quite a lot, and will change my approach to personal and work relationships and communication. highly recommend.
on 1 August 2014
This is now my favourite leadership book of all time, with Simon Sinek being my new fav author.
This book very much encompasses a military leadership theory, which as an ex military person, I am very comfortable and familiar with.
This is a common sense book based on ethics and strong morals, I loved his theories and his explainations. I got a lot out of it, and hope you do too.