Backed By Facts
I was first introduced to Simon Sinek's work through his 2009 Ted Talk. After watching that video, I decided to read about Sinek's theories. His first book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, was a great success, and highly recommended.
His sophomore release, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, is just as compelling as Start with Why, I urge anyone that works as part of a team to read the book.
Unlike most leadership books, the concepts in Leaders Eat Last, are backed by a thick list of scientific studies. The book exemplifies teamwork optimization through scientific evidence and historical anecdotes. I respect and appreciate the books lengthy bibliography which I dipped into for my own research.
There are troves of information within Leaders Eat Last. This article showcases a handful of concepts plucked from the notes I took while reading the book.
Expand The Circle of Safety
Performance can go up and down; the strength of a culture is the only thing we can truly rely on ~ p. 130
The Circle of Safety is a group within a team which we both confide in and protect. A shallow Circle of Safety is an indicator of a toxic team culture and poor leadership. Small circles, expose the company to internal competition and threats. Widening the circle removes the team's focus on internal threats, so they can concentrate on achieving goals. As such, leaders should strive to widen Circles of Safety within their teams.
In Leaders Eat Last, Sinek suggests several ways to widen the Circle of Safety. One suggestion is to focus on relationships instead of numbers. By doing this leaders assure team members that they are not going to relinquish them for short term financial gains. Expanding the circle makes the team a differentiating asset against competition.
Protect The Pack
Managers must become leaders in their own right, which means they must take responsibility for the care and protection of those in their charge ~ p. 115
Leaders build trust with a team by holding up a shield and protecting them from both internal and external threats. The leader needs to defend from external treats like recession, competition, and regulation enclosing the circle. Leaders also need to prevent internal threats from poisoning the team culture by eliminating toxic behavior.
Leaders need to earn the respect of followers. If the leader is weak, followers will not respect their authority. Followers want to be lead by a great leader. When following a great leader, the team can band together and accomplish great things.
Trust The Team
We work to advance the vision of a leader who inspires us and we work to undermine a dictator who means to control us ~ p. 139
Mutual trust is a requirement for all members within a Circle of Safety. When excluded from the circle, team members are forced to fend for themselves. They must fight to secure their own position, even if it compromises the team's integrity or its goals. Conversely, when teammates are not in competition they can band together, and work on achieving bigger goals.
An important part of leadership is having faith in the team to do a great job. All members need to be appreciated and acknowledged for their contribution to the teams goals. Actions like scaremongering and micromanaging blockade members from obtaining the trust of their leader. When leaders trust their team, they are inviting them to contribute to something bigger than themselves. This makes everyone feel good, and inspires the whole team to do great things.
True leaders enable the team to thrive, and allow them to accomplish something greater than any one person could alone.
Leader is Not A Rank
The rank of office is not what makes someone a leader. Leadership is the choice to serve others with or without any formal rank ~ p. 66
To gain the teams trust a leader must fulfill certain expectations. One such expectation is the leader will put their own interests behind those of the team ( e.g. eat last ).
A leader is the team member that inspires the rest of the team to achieve its goals. A leader can reside in any section of a teams hierarchy. Managers are not always the leader of a team. Likewise, leaders are not always in management positions.
The followers choose the leader. A rank or position does not dictate who a leader is. It is the level of belief the followers have in the leader to provide leadership to the team that chooses the leader.
Leaders Eat Last is a great read. This article is just a small taste of the kinds of information Simon Sinek explores within the book.
I downloaded the book on audible, and plowed through it. Additionally, I purchased the ebook from amazon so I could re-read / highlight all the good parts.
If you read the book, make sure to contribute to the discussion in the comments section below.