Pay-cuts and layoffs are a prevalent practice during an economic downturn. Many think that it’s a just decision by the leaders because the organization needs to survive. But is it true? Here’s what Simon Sinek says about it.
In “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek outlines the differences between just-surviving organizations and successful organizations.
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Why should you read this book?
You are part of an organization, even if you are unemployed; Your family, friends, or the community you live in. Unless you are a self-centered person, you’d want your organization to do better. But it just doesn’t happen sometimes.
You can’t lead an organization without the help of its members. But the members should have the mindset to do the right thing even in the absence of a leader.
This book is all about how can you, as a leader, could set the right mindset of other members so that they will protect the organization from all the unpredictable external dangers.
Key takeaways of “Leaders Eat Last.”
The circle of trust
Why do we love our families or friends-circle over other groups of strangers? Because we feel safe among them, aren’t we? It’s our circle-of-safety.
The circle-of-safety is where we feel we are safe. Every organization has a virtual defense wall built out of the trust of its members. This will protect the organization from unforeseeable dangers coming from outside.
When a plan to layoff employees is in place, what do you think will happen to this defense wall? Sure, the employees will feel unsafe about their jobs. When inside of the circle is filled with dangers, all the external dangers may conquer the organization. Apart from layoffs, many other things destroy the trust and safety within the circle. I’ll leave it for your imagination.
In this book, Simon Sinek explains with real-life examples of this idea. The story of Johnny Bravo and his wingman is an inspiring one. But, in practice, how can we make every individual feel safe—That’s why leaders eat last.
Be the last to profit.
A leader is a person who first protects others but himself/herself when there is a danger. Not in the book, but in a video, when asked how he came up with the name “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek explains with the photograph of a mother protecting her child during the Kenya mall siege. And he says, every mother is a biological leader. Very true, isn’t it?
Faced with any danger, leaders must first think about how they are going to protect their people, before defending themselves. But sadly, in most organizations, the first thing leaders care about is protecting their numbers. Maybe the next takeaway explains why they behave that way.
Compare the feelings of our beloved dog’s death against a natural disaster in some other part of the world, killing many people. Which one has the most significant impact on us? We devote a day or more to the mourning of our dog while we just watch the news on TV about the disaster, don’t we?
But if we rationally think, the death of many people and other animals is clearly a more significant loss than one dog. But what calls us for mourn for our dog?
In the disaster case, we are abstract from the scenario. It is far too away to touch the empathetical parts of our brain. But even a little road accident in our neighborhood is very close in psychological proximity, and it has a high impact on us.
This is also true in an organizational setup. When the organization is small, everyone gets to see and understand each other. Our decisions are more concerning about the people. But when organizations grow large, management is abstracted out with different layers. The top-level seldom get to see the bottoms. And they are often an insignificant part of their decision making.
My thoughts after reading Leaders Eat Last
Leaders Eat Last is much-much more than this. I firmly believe that its one of the best leadership books ever written and a strong recommended reading for anyone who wants to be a leader who leads their people for a better future.
Most importantly the Milgram Experiment explained in the book is very helpful to understand how we lose our empathy when we are abstract from the seen.
You can get the book from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Cf6sQC