Leaders eat last

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“Leaders are to provide direction and intent and allow others to figure out what to do and how to get there.” Referencing Captain Marquet, a career submariner who graduated at the top of his Naval class, Simon Sinek shares an intriguing leadership concept.

And it spoke to me.

If I’m totally honest, Sinek had me at hello after I read “Start With Why.” Recently, I picked up “Leaders Eat Last,” where Sinek reflects on leadership and team dynamics – two areas that interest me. I hope the leadership skills and team dynamic tips I chose to highlight will spark your interest as well.

Leaders should provide cover and relinquish control

Photo of two keys crossing one another and the words Team and Success to define what makes a good leader

Provide cover

Ah, the ultimate of getting your team’s back, right? Attend the meetings, glean insight and all the while, block and tackle. Simply put, providing cover means educating, mediating and negotiating.

Relinquish control

Easy for some, yet difficult for others. As a leader, you may feel like you designate but do you truly empower others and foster insight and intellect? Or you do you direct individual thinking under your own framework?

Leaders should get personal

“Roaming the halls of the office and engaging with people beyond meetings really matters,” says Sinek.

As a leader, do you roam, ask questions and engage with your colleagues? If you open your ears and eyes, you will realize your colleagues already do this. They sit with one another and chat informally. They inquire and follow-up on the day-to-day and big life stuff.

Where do you fit in as a leader? Do you foster personal relationships and if so, do you join in? Or are you completely disconnected and prefer to focus on the work at hand? I tend to agree with Sinek on engagement. It matters if you take time to genuinely connect.

Leaders should pay attention to stressors

A chalkboard drawing of a machine cog, two people standing on either side on top of the word Team to define what a leader means

Moving from leadership tips to team dynamics, what do you think causes the greatest stress?

Believe it or not, it’s not added responsibility, demands or pressure. Rather, it’s the degree of control workers feel they have, according to Sinek. By control, he is referring to “the imbalance between the effort we give and the reward we feel.”

Fair enough. So how can leaders enhance a sense of reward?

Based on my experience, both as a leader and as a team player, I offer the following. I welcome your thoughts via the comments section.

Mindfully share compliments, praise in front of other colleagues (especially with higher level executives), honor, give a high-five, laugh and buy lunch or drinks after work. Simply put, be a cheerleader and celebrate along the way. Be in the moment with your team and elevate enthusiasm.

Here is another surprising finding (or maybe not so much), according to Sinek.

Stress is not directly connected to long hours put in at the office – as long as you come home happy because you love what you do. Family dynamics suffer when you come home unhappy, even if you work a shorter day.

As I always ask, what say you? All comments and feedback are welcome about your lived and led work experiences.




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Elna · at

Totally agree with a lot of it. A leader needs to take interest in his team. Professional and to some degree a personal level. The hard work and long hours do not matter if you feel valued and rewarded in your team.

    cooldeb · at

    Amen Elna. Taking intentional action to provide value, honor and appreciation is so important. Thank you for your comment!

Gabriela · at

Sounds familiar to the concept of servant leadership. The managers that I’ve admired the most in my career have been those that always have the goal of helping others reach their goals, and just see themselves as facilitators vs supervisors. Great post!

    cooldeb · at

    I agree Gaby and thought the same thing regarding servant leadership. In fact, I was going to make my feature photo reflective of this but I wasn’t sure if everyone was familiar with that style. It’s my favorite. I appreciate your reflections and thoughts.

Ed M · at

Really Good Post Debbie!!! I look back over the years at the managers I have had and the people I have managed. I always tried to mirror what I defined as “good” manager/leader. I learned at a very young age, LEAD BY EXAMPLE (courtesy of the Marine Corps). I also remember the 14 leadership traits (or traits of a good leader) that I try to say to myself everyday and practice everyday while out. The next time you see me, ask me to recite them–I will!! Leaders are not made overnight, it takes time!

    cooldeb · at

    Thank you Ed. I am sure the military provided an amazing foundation for good leadership. And thank you for your service. I look forward to asking you about the 14 traits…school me!

Kathleeen · at

Great insights. Yes, thoughtful praise of the group is great especially when the team is in the “thick of it”. Companies with a top down approach; public praise is best utilized when done in front of the C suite if possible; giving specific people and events with accolades.

    cooldeb · at

    So important Kathleen…praising when you are stressing! I have to work on that! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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