AGL 005: Book Review: Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last

I listen to a lot of audiobooks.  About a year ago, I listened to Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last audiobook.  I loved this book.  In my opinion its better than his first best seller, Start With Why.

In this book, Simon Sinek tells the story of Johnny Bravo, a military pilot and how he risked his life to defend ground troops in battle. He uses this story to illustrate the idea of the “Circle of Safety.”

Circle of Safety

Simon tells us that we should focus on helping those around us and under us instead of one-upping them. He uses our biology and our history as hunters and gatherers to show how this behavior affects our brains.

“The whole purpose of maintaining the Circle of Safety is so that we can invest all our time and energy to guard against the dangers outside. It’s the same reason we lock our doors at night.” 

One of the parts I really liked about this book is when Simon talked about our environment. I’m a believer that a happy and safe environment can help encourage and inspire those entrusted to our care. Simon also shocks us when he talks about how being happy at work can make you live longer… and of course the reverse, how stress is literally killing us.

Just like, Start with Why, Simon uses biology to explain motivation that we once attributed to psychology. He uses our 4 happy chemicals, endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin to explain how the chemical reactions that occur encourage leadership and motivate those around us. He then explains how to use those chemicals in our motivation… Here’s a brief run-down.

Endorphins & Dopamine, these are chemicals that are used to mask pain and make us feel good after we’ve achieved a goal. Endorphins are what causes runner’s high. They mask the pain we feel in our body when we’re working hard to achieve something. They are also highly addictive, which is why you can get addicted to running.

Dopamine is a chemical that gives you the satisfaction of completing a goal or task. We can get this as we accomplish things. This is the same chemical that is produced when you abuse cocaine or alcohol. We can structure our projects and goals as small chunks and give this feeling of satisfaction to our teams, encouraging and motivating them to continue achieving and move closer towards our end goal.

Serotonin and Oxytocin are the chemicals that involve trust and belonging. To get these juices flowing, Simon says you have to get on the floor, away from your computer and talk to your team and get them trusting you. Show them that you trust them. That’s most important. When he tells the stories of Johnny Bravo and the other marines, he ask them why they would risk their lives for their fellow marines, and the answer is simple, because they would do it for me. Trust works both ways.

Lastly, Simon talks about building a long-term leadership strategy. He says that the “Welch way” is wrong. We need to inspire, not manipulate with fear. We need people to trust us, not be afraid of us.

Simone says that good leadership is like exercise. You have to do it regularly to see small changes, but after doing it daily for a long time… when you look back on where you came from, you’ll see a huge difference, just like you do when you exercise. You don’t see the daily improvements, but you do see the big differences after weeks of training. You have to train to be a leader.

If you’re interested in this book and more, check out the video below and get the book on Amazon here.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t