A Summary of Leaders Eat Last

The military’s culture displays palpable evidence of how leadership can influence the culture of the fort, camp, or military branch overall. The organizational culture found in the military has provided explicit evidence on how a culture can change employee outcomes such as productivity, job satisfaction, team cohesion, and overall organizational commitment.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek takes a scientific approach to how leaders influence organizational culture with many examples found in the United States Marine Corps. This summary discusses some of the ideas Sinek defends in his latest book.

The first chapter of the book tells a story of a USMC officer who risks his own well-being for the greater good of his unit and his Commander’s intent. The officer used his own intuition and experience to prevent his unit from being taken out by the enemy. This story conveys the book’s overall message that leaders should provide empathy and respect to all members of the organization, no matter their position or role. Sinek takes this message as far as stating that leaders should consider their employees as their children and to take care their innate needs.

These innate needs are discussed in-depth arguing that triggers of different hormones produce various natural responses. Generosity, trust, and pride are referred to as prosocial responses that are triggered by oxytocin and serotonin. Motivation, goal-achievement, and endurance are all progress responses that are triggered by dopamine and endorphins. Humans require these hormones in order to not only be productive, but to develop meaningful relationships with coworkers and supervisors. In order for a person in a position of power to become a leader instead of merely a manager, they must recognize these biological responses within their employees to increase job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

When an organization attends to an employee’s innate needs and biological responses, he or she will give back to the organization and their coworkers. This idea is referred to as the Circle of Safety. Strong organizations incorporate the Circle of Safety in their culture when each employee protects each other without the worry of internal threats from within the group. With this sense of security, team members are able to “focus more time and energy to protect the organization from the constant dangers outside and seize the big opportunities”. The benefits of this phenomenon are further explained with examples found in the USMC where squad cohesion and camaraderie are essential for mission success.

Leaders Eat Last presents a thorough argument for leaders to value and respect all employees to increase organizational outcomes, for “when trust and cooperation thrive internally, we pull together and the organization grows stronger as a result”. If you are interested in reading this book, click here for a copy. Have you read the book? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.



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Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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