Over the past 8 weeks, LeaderImpact Singapore has engaged in a book study and discussion of “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek. Our groups met up once a week, for an hour-long session to discuss and share leadership insights as we went through the book together.
The premise of “Leaders Eat Last” presents itself in the title, advocating for leaders to adopt an “eat last” mentality in how they work with their teams. Inspired by his interviews with U.S. Marines officers, who practice a culture where the lower-ranking personnel eat before they do, Sinek states his case for leaders to practice servant leadership.
This practice seemingly stands in contrast to most observed behavior in human and animal societies where typically the leaders, or the pack alphas, are afforded the first choice of the group’s resources. How then does reversing that privilege, typically afforded to the leader, increase the chances that your team will be more united and successful in their endeavors?
It was on this premise that our groups embarked upon a learning journey, to discuss the insights presented by Sinek in his book, and to share what it meant within the context of our own lives.
Here are some insights that we uncovered during our time together:
1. The “Circle of Safety”
The company we keep matters, it is the people around us who will determine where we invest our energy. The more we trust that the people around us have our backs, the more confident we are to face outside threats.
The Circle of Safety is about working together as a united team, one that can survive and thrive regardless of the conditions outside.
This feeling of belonging, of shared values and deep empathy, drastically increases trust, cooperation, and problem-solving.
Absent in-fighting and internal fears, the team can focus on protecting the group from external threats.
The responsibility of leaders is to not only create but also maintain these Circles of Safety, safe and conducive environments where teams can do their best work.
2. Integrity Matters
“The problem we have…is that taking responsibility for one’s actions must happen at the time you perform your actions, not at the time you get caught.”
Leadership is not about being right all the time, it is not a rank worn on a collar.
It is about character. It is about integrity, honesty, and accountability; these are all components of trust. It comes from telling us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. It means having the courage to admit we were wrong when we mess up.
To be a true leader, one must be able to foster deep trust and loyalty to maintain the Circle of Safety. That begins with telling the truth, no matter how hard it may be.
3. Step Twelve
Step Twelve refers to the most powerful step in the Alcoholics Anonymous program, the commitment to help another alcoholic beat the disease. It is all about service.
Whenever a genuine human bond is present, where neither party wants anything from the other, we find the strength to endure seemingly anything.
No hardship seems too great when we have a partner to help see us through. With trust and empathy, not only do the difficult times feel easier to endure, but we are also better able to manage stress and anxiety.
The role of the leader is to paint a vision, give a reason and purpose for the group to serve each other wholeheartedly.
4. Leadership is a Group Responsibility
Sinek concludes his book with this final point,
“Leadership, true leadership, is not the bastion of those who sit at the top. It is the responsibility of anyone who belongs to the group.”
Each member of the team has a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the Circle of Safety.
Like a family unit, genuine leadership is about committing to the well-being of those in the Circle and having a willingness to make sacrifices to protect the interests of the group and those in it.
The premise of Sinek’s argument can be succinctly described in a single word, Service.
As leaders prioritize the needs of the group and its members before their own, the group members in turn will also protect their leader and the group because of the safety that has afforded them.
Let us take some time to think about the ways we can be better servant leaders to those around us. It doesn’t always have to be big or extravagant gestures, often it’s the little things done consistently (with the right intention!) that end up making the biggest difference.
Our team at LeaderImpact Singapore would like to thank all the facilitators and participants for joining us on this learning journey. It has truly been a fulfilling experience for our team to be able to grow and learn alongside fellow leaders, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey, as you have been a blessing in ours.
Our next round of book study and discussion will commence early next year! Please keep a lookout for our future mailers or follow us on our socials (links below!) for updates on upcoming and future LeaderImpact programs and events.
Have a wonderful December and we wish you all safe travels and a blessed time with your family and loved ones!
“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Matthew 20:26-28
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