To be very honest, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek isn't a book that I like that much. But since the main reason behind writing these book notes that I have been writing is to remind the future me of some possible good ideas that I have read from books, I will still jog down some possibly useful tips for myself. I will also jog down what I don't really like about the book, so I can have a chance to reflect on my own past thinking when I read this piece of notes again in the future. So, let me start off the notes with some tips or lessons that are presented in the book, followed by some of my random thoughts.
In his book, Sinek explained that a team of people can move forward faster and better when they feel safe, meaning that they trust each other and also trust the leader. I do agree with him on that. It simply sucks when your teammates don't have your back. It is even worse when people stab on your back, in order to protect themselves or to move themselves closer to their personal goals.
In order for the team to work in a safe environment, it is the leader's responsibility to create that "circle of safety" as Sinek put it in the book. It is important for the leader to build a culture that people are not going to hide their mistakes and people are not going to stab on each other's back. Another related idea that Sinek mentioned is to not do layoffs until there are no other choices.
Imagine if the team members are fighting against each other, there is no way that the team as a whole is walking the shortest path towards a single goal, instead, there will be a lot of zig-zagging going on. As a leader, you want to let people know that they are safe to make mistake and safe financially, so they can look out for each other to achieve what they have actually signed up for.
If you want to be a good leader, you need to learn how to delegate your work to your team. That takes trust and discipline. It is sometimes difficult to do, but the reward is worth it. Think about all the time that you can free up for yourself to do things that are even more important.
Leadership is something that you can learn and it takes practice. You need to be very objective and check regularly whether you are leading your team to move towards the shared goal effectively or not.
As a good example of a leader spending time instead of money, imagine your boss actually spending time to pick a gift for you as your bonus instead of some cash, assuming you already have enough salary to make comfortable living, how would you feel? I remember I have heard a talk by Basecamp's founder Jason Fried where he talked about how he bought some really nice vacation packages for his team members as their gifts. To me, that is remarkable. Before I move on to write about some of my random thoughts about the book, I have to say that this book sounds like a very frictional book that is describing an utopia in a very wordy way. However, I do feel that Simon Sinek is a very good speaker, may be there is something about his writing that just doesn't resonate with me.
Leaders Eat Last is the second book I read that is written by Sinek. The first of his books I read is Start With Why. Both books have some of the best book titles I have ever seen. They are so short and catchy. To be honest, the title is basically the whole book, for both of his books. I am just guessing that a lot of people buy these books partly because the titles make you nod. If you argue against "start with why", are you living or running your business without purpose? If you argue against "leaders eat last", are you a selfish leader?
In his book, he talks a lot about the brain chemicals. I think that makes both his books and his talks sound so much more believable. I am not saying that he, not being a scientist, cannot use science to back up his points. I just have a feeling that he is picking things here and there from science researches to support ideas that he already have confirmed.
There is no question in my mind that Sinek is a great speaker. He can simply grab people's attention and make his talks very entertaining. However, that's not the case for his book. I found his book quite wordy indeed.
I am guessing that a good reason that this book, Leaders Eat Last, has become a best seller because of Sinek's popularity he has gained from his TED talks. That makes me wonder whether building up the audience has become an important first step for launching a product.
Many books can be re-written as a piece of article without any value lost, but I feel that Sinek has taken that to a whole new level. Basically, all Leaders Eat Last is saying is that leader needs to provide a safe working environment for the team and trust between each other is important. All Start With Why is saying is just "start with why".
To make a piece of content connect with the audience, whether it is a talk, an article, or a book, the content and the presentation are equally important. Think about his entertaining talks, while his ideas are not that new or original, the presentation is no doubt very good, and that is probably why his talks are so viral.
I think one of Sinek's most famous talks is the one about how mobile phone, or to be more specific social media, addiction is doing a lot of harm to people. It is very similar to what alcohol or drugs do to us. I really want to thank him for the viral talk that has waken me up. I found that it's not only a problem for the millennials. I have since limited my use of the smart phone and especially Facebook and I feel that has been one of the best habits I have installed or un-installed to myself. I am very thankful for his talk indeed.