Paper based on Leaders eat last by Simon Sinek
Leaders eat last is a book for leaders in the modern world especially considering the fact that the world is divided into two: leaders and followers. Simon Sinek speaks about the true meaning of leadership and alludes to the fact that many leaders of today never really understand the impact their leadership have on those they lead. Sinek observes the modern struggles between followers and leaders to bring to the fore the nature of leading in the modern world.
One of the outstanding messages Sinek speaks about is the need to cultivate a circle of safety (Sinek, 41). In Sinek’s world the circle of safety involves employees working together and helping each other out rather than fighting and competing against each other to impress management. The circle of safety helps people built trust in each other knowing that in case of any outside danger someone is always there for us. What’s more, the circle will enable people exchange information freely which eventually propels the organization towards success.
In order to cultivate one’s circle of safety, Sinek proposes various habits that need to be developed. First, empathy helps the leader to recognize and share about how people that one is leading feel. Every employee deserves to have a leader that is not only concerned about results but is also empathetic to the things they go through every day. Secondly, he proposes treating employees with respect and dignity. Sinek affirms that when leaders treat employees with dignity and respect the benefits are unlimited.
Leadership is biology. Sinek explains how four chemicals including oxytocin, endorphin, dopamine and serotonin affect people. Each one of these chemicals has a role to play in shaping a person. Endorphin is responsible for masking pain, dopamine for achieving goals, serotonin for leadership and oxytocin for love. Sinek calls endorphin and dopamine selfish as they help people get things done. Serotonin and oxytocin are the selfless chemicals that help people in strengthening social bonds as well as in fostering networks and collaborations.
Selfish chemicals make us achieve our personal goals and make us happy whenever these goals are achieved. These chemicals are addictive and other than making us push others to the limits to accomplish our goals, they also make us happy at the expense of others. These chemicals are good but can be very dangerous when abused. Leaders are advised to avoid using these chemicals because they make them blind to people’s problems.
Selfless chemicals create trust, contribution and the feeling of belonging. Using these chemical in daily interactions inspires synergy which leads to better cooperation and collaboration. Many leaders want tangible results which is fine. However, they do so by ordering people around and posting memos and warning all over the office. Sinek observes that doing so is bad style of leadership because it involves only the selfish chemicals. Leaders must get away from the comfort of personalized offices and computers and connect with employees. They must come out and show them that they are there and that they care. Leaders must stand with the rest of employees not as cheerleaders when things are right but in every time regardless.
Sinek also discusses on the importance and means of becoming long-term leaders. He alludes to the fact that although short-term successes are good, they cannot measure up to the collective effect they have over the long-term. He further alludes to short-sightedness in leading where leaders only focus all their attention and energy on what happens today and perhaps tomorrow. Truth is leaders must look far ahead and setup strategies that will create a positive picture of a long-term contribution.
Many CEOs make decisions that only help them achieve what they need to achieve in the short periods they serve. They do this to protect their image and advance their interests. Sinek observes that advancing personal objectives over ta short term at the expense of the company’s long-term health is selfish. Leading should be long-term and hence leaders should focus on setting up strategies that ensure long-term health of the organizations and people they lead even when benefits will start coming long after they have left.
Essentially, Leaders eat last communicates the message that the buck stops with the leader. In literal meaning, it means leaders should think about the followers first before they think about their personal interests. In a perfect world, the only difference between leaders and followers is that the former work more than the latter. In this world, too, leaders do most of the work and only allow followers to finish. Leaders should be selfless people who want the best for followers even if it means taking home little or nothing for themselves. Leaders eat last is a mockery of current leadership where leaders take everything and leave nothing for the followers. It is a mockery of the way leaders are perceive in the modern society as people who need to be worshipped and feared.
Sinek sends the message that the current state of affairs is based on the wrong principles and must be changed as soon as possible. Leadership should not be a factor that divides people into two but a factor that makes people find more reasons to work together, help one another and ultimately improve working environment. Leaders need to use more of their selfless chemicals and reserve the selfish chemicals. Employees too must start working together to further their common cause and avoid unnecessary competition that only creates a very unhealthy working environment.
Sinek, Simon. Leaders eat last: Why some teams pull together and others don’t. Penguin, 2014.