In Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek believes that every single employee is capable of becoming a leader, of being remarkable, of exercising courage and sacrifice, of investing into the company, and of finding fulfillment at work.
The General Role Of The Leader
In addition, Simon Sinek considers humans as hunters, organizations as tribes and leaders as those who put order within the tribe.
In modern days, leaders are perceived as dominant, are the ones that eat first, are the ones who make the most money, who get preferential treatment and most importantly are those who are supposed to protect. Indeed, they have more resources at their disposal and have to use it appropriately to ensure the survival of their tribe.
However, for long-lasting results, to gain the loyalty and respect of their employees, they must not consider their well-being above the well-being of the tribe. They must eat last.
It is the role of leaders of an organization to be courageous, to demonstrate empathy, to lay down the foundation for success, to show employees appreciation and to allow them to take appropriate risks.
The Circle Of Safety
The Circle Of Safety contains all the people of an organization. It is a safe space where employees feel fulfilled at work, don’t dread Monday morning, are willing to advance the company’s purpose. It is an environment of increased commitment, fulfillment, gratitude and happiness, where employees are more relaxed, thrive, collaborate and work for each other.
In the Circle Of Safety, leaders and employees share the same values, pull their respective loads and are committed to the Circle. Everyone feels valued by their peers, they know that their colleagues have their backs, they believe that they belong to something greater than themselves, that they can safely drive innovation, share ideas and express themselves freely.
By the same token, employees and leaders must independently weigh their decisions and ponder whether or not their decisions are beneficial to the group. It is wise to remember that working toward individualistic goals will hurt the group.
Leaders In The Circle Of Safety
Besides, leaders are the gatekeepers of the Circle. They set the standards, they decide who gets in and who stays at the door.
To create safety, leaders have to meet certain conditions and build a soothing company culture. Company culture in modern days is unnatural because they go against all natural needs, instincts, rights for safety and fulfillment.
If leaders want to create a Circle Of Safety, to establish an innovative, stable, robust, lasting, successful company, they must:
- Understand that employees are not a means to an end and shouldn’t be exploited.
- Increase employee cohesion and inclusion. They must no longer fear each other but must be willing to fight external challenges together. Moreover, there is power in numbers: when challenges arise, employees in the Circle Of Safety must put all their differences aside to reach a common goal.
- Avoid placing money above people but place people above everything else.
- Remember that they are the models for the organization. Therefore, they must define a clear set of values and beliefs for themselves and for their employees.
- Inject empathy into the workplace culture and treat everyone fairly. This will make both employees and leaders more human, and make work more enjoyable.
- Extend trust to earn trust. Trust also lies in the fact that leaders know when to follow the rules and when to break them in order to guarantee the safety of their employees.
- Help people solve problems. They will in turn, help each other.
- Listen to their employees.
- Protect their employees internal conflicts and promote collaboration.
The Feasibility Of The Circle Of Safety
Making people feel safe, putting their well-being first is idealistic but impractical.
On one hand, people work out of necessity, are willing to stay in a job that they hate to provide for themselves and for their loved ones. They don’t want to selflessly commit to and invest themselves into the company. They are reluctant to put forth the time and effort because they are not in control and might not receive the proper rewards.
On the other hand, it is quasi difficult to find organizations that genuinely care for their employees safety and well-being. Most of them tend to care more about reaching numbers and are willing to sacrifice people to get there. The truth is most companies and leaders display poor character and induce a stressful and fearful culture. Employee disengagement, high employee turnover and health problems ensue.
Abundance and Abstraction
Finally, when leaders have everything in abundance, which is often the case today, they lose the real value of things. As a consequence, the more their companies grow, the more they are out of touch with their employees and their consumers, the less they empathize with them. To solve this abstraction, leaders should:
- Get to know their employees personally. Investing time and energy in them will transpire as appreciation.
- Continually spread ideas, find people, connect with them, build real human relationships and bring them together.
- Expand their company to 150 employees at most in order to remember everyone and to keep strong relationships.
- Observe the real impact and results of their time and effort, alongside their employees’. This will consequently increase everybody’s quality of work.
- Give people the time needed to trust, to find their way and place with the Circle Of Safety.
The Influence Of The Company Culture
The culture severely impacts the survival of the company. When there are no values, no principles, no particular beliefs, when the culture is based on numbers, reports and performance, the company is doomed to fail.
Moreover, leaders with poor character fabricate a bad culture that in turn breeds bad leaders. This is why, leaders are required to:
- Rely on integrity and trust, spend time with the people they serve and shift their focus to the latter.
- Find someone to lean on and to help them through hardships.
- Discover their life purpose.
- Work hard for what they have in order to value it.
- Hold on to their responsibilities.
Simon Sinek, in Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, provides an innovative leadership strategy to build a successful organization, to increase employee engagement and fulfillment.
After Start With Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Leaders Eat Last is intended for millennials and promotes leadership excellence. To develop a successful organization, Simon Sinek encourages us to discover the reasons why we do what we do, to understand people and their needs, to go beyond having good competencies and good managerial skills.
In this great book, Sinek places people at the forefront of the company and demonstrates that building a company from the ground up takes on a whole new sense. He believes that leaders have to take care of the well-being of their employees first and their employees will take care of the rest.
Besides, he doesn’t claim to be an idealist, to believe that all workers love their jobs and that all leaders treat their employees well. He understands that most people work out of necessity.
Lastly, he analyzes our biological needs and transposes them to the modern working world. Our natural needs are powerful forces that we cannot control.
In our modern world, advancing our careers and trying to find happiness and fulfillment are the definition of success. But the systems inside us that guide our behavior and decisions still function as they did tens of thousands of years ago. Our primitive minds still perceive the world around us in terms of threats to our well-being or opportunities to find safety.
Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own . . . in sickness and in health. And if we are successful, our people will take on our company’s name as a sign of the family to which they are loyal.
This feeling of belonging, of shared values and a deep sense of empathy, dramatically enhances trust, cooperation and problem solving.
Quite often, what’s good for one is not necessarily good for the other. Working exclusively to advance ourselves may hurt the group, while working exclusively to advance the group may come at a cost to us as individuals.
Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.