8 Uncomfortable Insights From Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last

📒 Small ingredients that will make the difference in your Leadership recipe.

More than a book about how to be a good leader, this is a book on why we need great leadership, what it looks like and how we suffer without it. You still get plenty of advice on how to reach your best as a leader though. The first principles are all there: leaders go first and, after great leadership, incredible things will follow.

There’s a price to pay though.

Leaders just have to put the needs of others above their own.

#1 — The cultures that we love to rave about aren’t just built by leaders. But they go first.

Great organizations have great cultures. To build these cultures we need leaders providing cover from above, so people on the ground, feeling safe, can just look out for each other.

#2 — The best leaders will establish relationships with you.

For a species that spends so much time on social networks, we forget a lot that we are social animals. It’s through being social that we get to know each other, form relationships, and gain trust. When we lead it makes a difference to roam the office/factory/warehouse/etc and engage (even in remote). If there is no reason, that’s the reason. Why?

  • It’s a work-related “task” to form deep connections with the people we work with;
  • To know who they are, what they need, and what moves them;
  • To be there in the good times, so when difficult times come we are not strangers and we’ll be the first they turn to.

A heuristic to help: If the only time you talk with your people is in a daily, a department meeting, or with the help of a PowerPoint presentation you are doing something wrong. Roam the halls, engage, and expect surprises.

#3 — Leaders have a plan designed for them. They just need to find the best way to execute it.

  1. Teach your people the rules of the game you are playing;
  2. Train them so they become competent at that game;
  3. Build their confidence;
  4. Step back and trust.

One of these might be way more difficult than the others.

#4 — Our best products come from engaged employees who invented, tested, and built them. Not from the right numbers on an excel sheet.

Leaders bring you more of the first part, and managers more of the second. It’s just a matter of priorities. What others foster is one thing and what you want to become is another.

#5 — The benefits of relationships: “Our” scrum master and “The” head of department.

Knowing the people we work with can make a difference.

We can start looking at each other like family, feel responsible for their well-being, and in turn, those in the group start to express ownership for their leader. Of course, you can’t get to this point with certifications, mandatory training, or by offering better compensation.

Offering time and energy, on the other hand, might do it. Give it to your managers, so they can see it’s possible, and in turn they will provide the same to their subordinates. Aim for the “Our”.

#6 — What are leaders supposed to do all day? Taking knowledge where it’s supposed to go.

Actually a little more than that, but if that’s all they accomplish it’s already a win.

The best leaders share what they know and ask the right people for help. They foster relationships and create networks so collaboration can happen with the least friction. They give authority to those closest to the problem.

Poor leaders hide information, thinking that their power comes from exclusivity, rank, or from the relationships only they have access to.

The best leaders train people to think. Poor leaders train people to comply.

#7 — The best rewards can have the worst of impacts.

We are biologically tied to the results of our work. We hit a goal, we get a shot of dopamine, and we want to do it again. But there’s a problem.

The majority of our incentives are based on hitting number-based goals like X% growth every year and receive number-based rewards for doing it. Even worse is how these goals might be defined per individual and/or for short-term periods, like quarters or a year.

There is nothing that encourages a fight for a cause, a bigger purpose, a long-term vision. It can promote, however, internal competition, between individuals and teams, making the whole organization unsafe from internal threats and vulnerable from outside ones.

#8 — Great leadership is about providing the right mission to your people, not solving their problems.

The reason why small companies often win the innovation game against large corporations is all about survival.

Small companies have limited resources and need everyone’s effort to survive. Like a tribe, everyone knows everyone and that means that if they fail they personally know everyone affected. These conditions are rare at large companies, with plenty of resources and no imminent danger of disappearing.

What gets us moving is when leaders offer us a reason to become a better version of ourselves by overcoming a challenge bigger than the resources available, but matched by our potential.

We need a vision of the world that we want to make a reality, a reason to come to work and love it.

Leadership ultimate mission

Like a parent, being a leader is a commitment to the wellbeing of our people and to make sacrifices for their best interests. It’s hoping that after we are gone we leave behind people that will take our mission as theirs and do it better than us.

The mission, if we should choose to accept it is:

Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.”

filipesilva.me — From software engineering to football coaching. This Week’s Worth💎is my weekly newsletter. Find it here: thisweeksworth.substack.com

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