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Anne-Marie Schindler (Founder/Small Wins Consulting)
I picked up Leaders Eat Last when I was going through a lot of transition at work. Our organization had experienced a significant scandal; the leadership team which I really respected was turning over; my direct boss and mentor was leaving; And I was still charged with managing one of the bigger teams in the organization.
I would read this quote over and over again to guide my everyday,"the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest."
It grounded me in what was important and when I made it a core value for myself, I was easy to use that as a benchmark for myself and influence my team to operate at a higher standard.
Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled.
This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things. In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure.
Why? The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. "Officers eat last," he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What's symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort--even their own survival--for the good of those in their care. Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest.
But the best ones 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. Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.