Leaders Eat Last Summary

The title of this book was inspired by the US Marines. In the foreword, retired Lt. General George Flynn explains that when Marines gather to eat, most juniors are served first and most seniors eat last.

Nobody gives this command. Marines just do it.

According to the general, this very act epitomizes the US Marines' approach to leadership.

And that is the true price of leadership is the willingness to put the needs of others ahead of your own.

To be selfless, to really care about your people, and be driven because of one unified goal.

Who should read this?

Managers, bosses, CEOs, company owners, anyone in a position of leading people.

Leaders Eat Last Main Ideas

  • The feeling of safety must first be established within the group (or company) before progress can be made. Leaders are the ones who will establish this safety circle.
  • Leaders have a tremendous effect on the type of culture the company will have. A leader focused on profits will ultimately drive the company towards short goals and will never have meaningful success and growth.
  • Abstraction is the enemy of empathy. When leaders begin to see people as mere numbers (lose the human element and connection), that's when they begin putting their own agendas first above everyone else's.
  • Leaders must have the ability to empathize and connect with people. 
  • A huge part of a group or a company's success lies in the leader's ability to put their people's needs before theirs. 

Quick Summary of Leaders Eat Last

Humans of prehistoric age created the first social hierarchies when they started hunting in packs.

Hunters were at the top of this hierarchy (because of the big role they play in making sure the group does not get hungry) while others who settle for picking fruits and other less-riskier tasks are considered of "lower ranking" in the group.

Members of the group will put more value in hunters, as they are essentially the ones who make them feel secured and taken care of.

A company will not be able to focus on growing and hitting its goals if there's a real threat within the workplace. 

Aside from keeping the group well-fed and safe, it's the leader's task to build a circle of safety within its members. And once that safety net is established, they can now focus on doing stuff that will improve their lives (e.g develop tools, build homes, etc.,). This allowed our ancestors to push our race forward towards progress.

A dictator-style leader, for example, will naturally turn its people into ass-kissers for fear of getting the boot. Each day at the office will be about making sure they won't get fired, instead of doing meaningful work for the benefit of the company.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a leader who creates a culture of trust and excellence allow its members to "feel safe" and focus on progress.

It's a leader's responsibility to care about his or her people. Without care, abstractions occur. 

It takes away the human element, and when this happens, leaders start treating everyone else as mere numbers, metrics, and tools. The "care factor" goes away and further detaches a leader's feelings towards his fellow men, putting personal gains above all else.

To illustrate this point, the author told the story of when the Peanut Corporation of America knowingly delivered peanuts that were contaminated simply because they didn't want to take a loss in revenue.

The result? The 2009 Salmonella outbreak in US.

The ability to form genuine connections with others while maintaining integrity in all actions is what makes a great leader.

In order to establish a circle of safety, trust is needed. Setting the right example through honesty and integrity is how true leaders do it.

​Trust paves the way for leaders to connect and bond with their people. 

If the group feels a genuine connection between them and the leader, they naturally will reciprocate it through support and loyalty. 

And when this happens, everyone will be on the same page, everybody will do their role towards reaching the ultimate goal.

The mark of a true leader is someone who puts the needs of others first before his or her own.

​This is the true price of leadership.

If you're a leader, start by caring for others, not numbers or profits. Solve their problems, make them feel secured. In return, they will commit and do everything in their power to reach the goal.

Lessons from Leaders Eat Last

Leadership is not about skills. It's about trust.

A team's ability to do great things all depend on their ability to work and trust each other well.

The true cost of leadership is self-interest. When leaders are ready to give up theirs, that's when everything start to fall into place for the better.


My Favorite Quotes from Leaders Eat Last

When a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own.

Integrity is when our words and deeds are consistent with our intentions.

The ability of a group of people to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people pull together as a team.

Leadership takes work. It takes time and energy. The effects are not always easily measured and they are not always immediate. Leadership is always a commitment to human beings.

It is a leader’s job instead to take responsibility for the success of each member of his crew. It is the leader’s job to ensure that they are well trained and feel confident to perform their duties. To give them responsibility and hold them accountable to advance the mission.

All leaders, even the good ones, can sometimes lose their way and become selfish and power hungry, however. Intoxicated by the chemicals, they can sometimes forget that their responsibility as a leader is to their people. Sometimes these leaders are able to regain their footing, but if they don’t, we have little choice but to look past them, lament what they have become, wait for them to move on and look to someone else to lead us

The rank of office is not what makes someone a leader. Leadership is the choice to serve others with or without any formal rank.

Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.

About the Author Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is a British-American author, motivational speaker and organisational consultant. This is his follow-up book to the bestseller, Start With Why.

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