“Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” by Simon Sinek: Part One

  1. For an organization to be successful its leaders need to understand the true purpose of their organization—the Why.
  2. Professional competence is not enough to be a good leader; good leaders must truly care about those entrusted to their care.
  3. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” ~George J. Flynn
  4. There is a pattern that exists in the organizations that achieve the greatest success, the ones that outmaneuver and out-innovate their competitors, the ones that command the greatest respect from inside and outside their organizations, the ones with the highest loyalty and lowest churn and the ability to weather nearly every storm or challenge. These exceptional organizations all have cultures in which the leaders provide cover from above and the people on the ground look out for each other.
  5. To earn trust, he must extend trust.
  6. He believed in the fundamental goodness of people and he was going to treat them as such.
  7. Why can’t we enjoy ourselves at work like we do when we’re not at work?
  8. When the people have to manage dangers from inside the organization, the organization itself becomes less able to face the dangers from outside.
  9. If certain conditions are met and the people inside an organization feel safe among each other, they will work together to achieve things none of them could have ever achieved alone.
  10. When people don’t even want to be at work, progress comes at much greater cost and effort.
  11. Every single employee is someone’s son or someone’s daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives.
  12. Capitalism actually does better when we work as we were designed—when we have a chance to fulfill our very human obligations. To ask our employees not simply for their hands to do our labor, but to inspire their cooperation, their trust and their loyalty so that they will commit to our cause.
  13. And though Marines will need to learn those skills, just as we are taught skills to help us in our jobs, those things do not build the trust required for the kind of teamwork and cooperation that gets the job done better than everyone else.
  14. Intimidations, humiliation, isolation, feeling dumb, feeling useless and rejection are all stresses we try to avoid inside the organization. But the danger inside is controllable and it should be the goal of leadership to set a culture free from danger from each other. And the way to do that is by giving people a sense of belonging. By offering them a strong culture based on a clear set of human values and belief. By giving them the power to make decisions. By offering trust and empathy. By creating a Circle of Safety.
  15. As gatekeepers, leaders establish the standards of entry—who should be allowed into the Circle and who should be kept out, who belongs and who doesn’t.
  16. When we believe that those inside our group, those inside the Circle, will look out for us, it creates an environment for the free exchange of information and effective communication.
  17. Leaders want to feel safe too. No matter what place we occupy in the pecking order, every single one of us wants to feel like we are valued by the others in the group. If we are having a bad day at work and our performance is suffering, instead of yelling at us, we wish our bosses would ask us, “Are you okay?” And likewise, we as members of the Circle have a responsibility to our leaders—that’s what makes us valuable to them, not our numbers.
  18. The reality of running a business, big or small, private or public, makes it nearly impossible to do the things folks like me write about.
  19. Our ability to provide for our kids, make ends meet or live a certain lifestyle sometimes comes at the cost of our own joy, happiness and fulfillment at work.
  20. Stress and anxiety at work have less to do with the work we do and more to do with weak management and leadership. When we know that there are people at work who care about how we feel, our stress levels decrease. But when we feel like someone is looking out for themselves or that the leaders of the company are more about the numbers than they do us, our stress and anxiety go up. This is why we are willing to change jobs in the first place; we feel no loyalty to a company whose leaders offer us no sense of belonging or reason to stay beyond money and benefits.
  21. A study by two researchers at the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College found that a child’s sense of well-being is affected less by the long hours their parents put in at work and more by the mood their parents are in when they come home. Children are better off having a parent who works into the night in a job they love than a parent who works shorter hours but comes home unhappy.
  22. Our species was built to manage in conditions of great danger and insufficient resources.
  23. When we feel like we belong to the group and trust the people with whom we work, we naturally cooperate to face outside challenges and threats.
  24. The time we spend getting to know people when we’re not working is part of what it takes to form bonds of trust.
  25. Because of endorphins, humans have a remarkable capacity for physical endurance.
  26. The feeling of progress or accomplishment is primarily because of dopamine.
  27. If we are unable to adequately measure progress toward that vision, then how will we know if we’re making worthwhile progress?
  28. A good vision statement, in contrast, explains, in specific terms, what the world would look like if everything we did was wildly successful.
  29. There to encourage pro-social behavior, serotonin and oxytocin help us form bonds of trust and friendship so that we will look out for each other.
  30. We all want to feel valuable for the effort we put forth for the good of others in the group or the group itself.
  31. Those who work hardest to help others succeed will be seen by the group as the leader or the “alpha” of the group. And being the alpha—the strong, supportive one of the group, the one willing to sacrifice time and energy so that others may gain—is a prerequisite for leadership.
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