The University of Iowa Strength & Conditioning

Book Review: Leaders Eat Last

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

                Success in athletics, your profession and life cannot be limited to one aspect. Whether it be skill, coaching, facilities, or even luck the secret ingredient can be complex. In Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last a principle that dates back to the beginning of our biology is explored. Survival and thriving has stemmed from the principle of safety. Our biology hasn’t changed in thousands of years, but our environment has certainly changed. Today’s workplaces tend to be full of doubt, paranoia and selfishness. The best organizations foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a circle of safety that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside. The circle of safety leads to stable, adaptive, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong and all energies are devoted to facing the common enemy and seizing big opportunities. 

                The circle of safety is created and maintained by the leader. The choice, whether a leader puts themselves or their people first, determines if they are worthy of love and loyalty. As the title is symbolic, it is also very real and literal. There are only real leaders, you are either a leader or not and leaders eat last. Real leaders create an environment of loyalty, inspiration, and safety; as a result success is achieved.

                Leaders Eat Last is a fascinating book that includes case studies, interesting research and biological explanations for why the best organizations in the world succeed over the long term. Sinek also provides insight into why organizations and teams fail, for the simple reason of not putting people first. Focusing on the result or the numbers may work in the short run; however, over time that will fail as a foundation. It is the people of the organization and not the organization that work together in amazing ways.