Leaders eat last by Simon Sinek

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The mode of leadership in an organization is a crucial determinant of the employee motivation and the overall performance of the firm. Simon Sinek uses case examples to demonstrate the significant impact of a leader on a military branch, fort or camp. Notably, the exemplary culture adopted in the military presents evidence of a similar effect on team cohesion, productivity, commitment, and job satisfaction experienced by employees in a company. Sinek explores the styles of leadership and takes a scientific approach to explain the qualities of successful leaders. The army leadership requirements model is built on attributes that dictate presence, character, and intellect (Army n.p.). In addition, its accomplishments are realized through leadership, development, and achievements. This paper analyses Simon Sinek’s book, ‘leaders eat last’ and connects its concepts to the Army Leadership Requirements Model.

In the first chapter of the book, the author tells the story of a military officer who risks his life to safeguard that of his team members (Sinek pg. 2). He notes that esprit de corps is critical in forming a team. For instance, the leader should prioritize the well-being of others over their own. They should not only show concern by sympathizing with the situation at hand, but they should also act with empathy and selflessness. That quality in a leader creates a bond among team players who will emulate the leader in the same capacity. The writer encourages business managers to follow this approach that will be beneficial to their firms. Remarkably, employees will make sacrifices for the company if they feel that its leaders would do the same for them when need be. In practice, workers will be willing to work long hours to ensure that the organization achieves its financial goals. That is primarily fuelled by the assurance that the company will protect them and come through for them whenever they need assistance in various capacities. Notably, esprit de corps is cultivated by leaders, and over time, it becomes the culture that is adopted wholly by an organization and subscribed by employees subsequently.

The writer acknowledges the role of various hormones in the human body in triggering responses that facilitate leaders and subordinate relationships and fuel productivity. Serotonin and oxytocin evoke the feelings of trust, generosity, and pride, whereas endorphins and dopamine are responsible for endurance, motivation, and goal achievement. When trust is built within the organization, the team is left to tackle with enemies in the external environment. Similar to the military where officers unite against a common enemy, the employees need to not worry about the threat from within the organization. Therefore, it is critical that they feel secure in the team for them to adequately represent the firm to consumers, suppliers, and other stakeholders within the external environment. Sinek also points out that the army man in the story used his experience and intuition to protect his subordinates from the enemy that was confronting them. In most instances, the leader possesses more knowledge and skills compared to their followers. Therefore, they have a responsibility of utilizing their expertise in the field, to make a sound judgment that will be used to guide people out of danger. In overall, the writer encourages entrepreneurs to learn from the culture in the military and accord its employee’s job security so that they will not have to worry about a threat from within. Instead, they should use their expertise in the corporate field to navigate through tough economic times and guarantee their workers continuity in the firm.

The quality of long-term orientation in a leader is highlighted by the writer as a critical skill in a leader. Two chemicals in the brain play an important role in building resilience in individuals. Endorphins characterize physical pain that comes with pleasure, whereas dopamine brings about satisfaction after one has accomplished a specific task. Notably, dopamine is helpful in encouraging people to hit their targets to get rewards. However, it focuses too much on the figures and ignores the people that make these achievements. Measuring wins by short-term basis is likely to breed greed. A value system that encourages individuals to be resilient through setbacks and adversities, as required in the military is necessary for business leaders. It is easy for employees to help the firm achieve success, but it is another journey to assist them to build a character of agility through changing situations. Investing in people is vital in encouraging them to exploit their abilities in creating and innovating better ways of assisting the company to adapt to the demands of the market. The author recommends the esprit de corps that guides the military to concentrate on long-term goals of building a highly committed team. Notably, it creates a stable environment and a sense of security where the focus is shifted from immediate gains.

Whenever dopamine is the sole determinant of the organization’s culture, employees lack fulfillment in their jobs and end up feeling empty. Remarkably, serotonin is important in making leaders feel proud that their subordinates respect or like them. Oxytocin, on the other hand, brings about the feelings of trust and friendship between individuals. Thus, serotonin comes consequential to oxytocin. For instance, in reciprocating the sense of security and friendship bond created in the organization, employees make contributions to honor the firm in return. Notably, knowledge of how the chemicals in the brain work are necessary for a leader to balance their leadership decisions with reference to the military approach. In the 21st century, most firms have failed to give their workers the security of a long-term involvement with their businesses. They have instead employed the tactic of indulging employees on a contract basis which focuses more on immediate gains as opposed to building the person. Therefore, the aspects of creativity and innovation will not be bred because the staff lacks trust in the firm’s guarantee of job security. Thus, little value is realized by the company in the contractual-based employment. In overall, Sinek challenges leaders to borrow the long-term engagement of team players as exemplified in the military and shows its benefit in the agility and resilience developed in the officers over time (Doctrine pg. 3).

Remarkably, the book connects deeply with the principles in the Army Leadership Requirements Model. The author has linked the leadership concepts required of a military leader to the business world. He notes that giving job security safeguard employees from an internal threat and helps to them to focus on tackling issues in the external environment. Sinek highlights the importance of leaders using their expertise to secure their subordinates. He further notes the necessity of leaders being long-term oriented as it builds agility, resilience, and innovation. Importantly, the values stated in the book are similar to the ones present in the leadership requirements of the army.

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  1. Army, U. S. “ADRP 6-22: Army leadership.” Washington DC: Headquarters Department of the Army (2012).
  2. Doctrine, Army. “Training Publication (ADRP) 6-22, Army Leadership.” (2012): 1-5.
  3. Sinek, Simon. Leaders eat last: why some teams pull together and others don’t. Penguin, 2014.
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