Date read: 2020-09-05. How strongly I recommend it: 8/10
Being a big fan of "Start with Why" and the "Infinite Game" by Simon Sinek, I could not wait to get started on "Leaders eat last." At first, I thought it fell a little short, but I realized that the book is worth more than I first thought when I reviewed my notes and thoughts below.
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My notes and thoughts:
Truly human leadership protects an organization from the internal rivalries that can shatter a culture. When we have to protect ourselves from each other, the whole organization suffers. But hen trust and cooperation thrive internally, we pull together, and the organization grows stronger as a result.
Every single employee is someone's son or someone's daughter. Parents work to offer their children a good education and to teach them the lessons that will help them grow up to be happy, confident, and able to identify all the talents they were blessed with. Those parents then hand their children over to a company with the hope the leaders of that company will exercise the same love and care as they have. "It is we, the companies, who are now responsible for these precious lives," says Chapman, as he balls his hands into fists with the conviction of a devoted preacher.
People who claim to be happy live 35 percent longer than less happy people. The study of 3800 men and women aged fifty-two to seventy-nine found that those who rated their happiness the highest were far less likely to ie, in the following five years than those who were the least happy, even after accounting for demographic factors such as wealth, occupation and health-related behavior such as smoking and obesity.
To Kim, raising children has many lessons for running a company. Both require a balancing of short-term needs and long-term goals. "First and foremost, your commitment to them is life," Kim says. "Ultimately, you want them to become better people." Kim thinks of his employees exactly the same way.
Once the culture and values are clearly defined, it becomes the responsibility of all those who belong, whether in a formal position of leadership or not, to act as leaders, work to uphold the values, and keep the Circle of Safety strong.
"All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren't meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you have your role, which eventually you will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a styrofoam cup.
Instead of layoffs, the company implemented a mandatory furlough program.
"It is better that we all suffer a little," he told his people, "so that none of us has to suffer a lot."
To a social animal, trust is like lubrication. It reduces friction and creates conditions much more conducive to performance, just like putting the snowmobile back in the snow. Do that, and even an underpowered snowmobile will run circles around the most powerful snowmobile in the wrong conditions. It's not how smart the people in the organization are; it's how well they work together that is the true indicator of future success or the ability to manage through struggle.
A decision made using a spreadsheet to lay off four thousand people at some large corporation lieges tangibility and becomes something that just needs to be done to meet certain goals. The numbers no longer represent people who support their families but simply abstractions to be calculated. Be it a politician or someone working in a company, perhaps the most valuable thing we can do if we are to truly serve our constituents is to know them personally. It would be impossible to know all of them, but to know the name and details of the life of someone we are trying to help with our product, service, or policy makes a huge difference.
Find a way to talk to customers. Figure out what their pain is.
When cultural standards shift from character, values, or beliefs to performance, numbers, and other impersonal dopamine-driven measurements, our behavior driving chemicals fall out of balance, and our will to trust and cooperate dilutes.
Inside a Circle of Safety, when people trust and share their successes and failures, what they know and what they don't know, the result is innovation. It's just natural.
The more attention leaders focus on their own wealth or power, the more they stop acting like leaders and start talking more of the attributes of tyrants.
The more energy is transferred from the top of the organization to those who are actually doing the job, those who know more about what's going on on a daily basis, the more powerful the organization and the more powerful the leader.
In many cases, it doesn't matter how hard we've worked; if the company falls a little short, people will have to be laid off. No hard feelings; it's just business. Can you imagine getting rid of one of your children because you made less money than you expected last year? Imagine how your kids would feel if that were the plan; well, that's how it is in too many companies today.
Too many CEOs seem to skip the hard work of actually leading their employees. With an eye on short-term results, executives can't truly inspire workers.
Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. Only when a critical mass of employees feel like their leaders are working to help defend them from dangers outside can the company then invite customers into the circle too.
Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives and not numbers, Managers look after our numbers and our results, and leaders look after us.
Empathy is not something we offer to our customers or our employees from nine to five. Empathy is, as Johnny Bravo explains, "a second by second, minute by minute service that we owe to everyone if we want to call ourselves a leader." Leadership is not a license to do less; it is a responsibility to do more. And that's the trouble. Leadership takes work. It takes time and energy. The effects are not always easily measured, and they are not always immediate. Leadership is always a commitment to human beings.