I am a fan of Simon Sinek. Simon’s first book Start with Why had a huge impact on our lives at COTHA. Through this book, we examined and discerned the central purpose of our congregation. We discovered our “why.” This is best summed up with a simple statement: “COTHA exists to be a biblically functioning church that violates the status quo with biblical truth and seeks to connect the disconnected to the COTHA family.”
I recently learned that Simon Sinek has published a second book, “Leaders Eat Last.” In preparation for writing this book, Sinek studied leaders and companies that excel and have made a lasting difference. As in his first book, Sinek has discovered a common trait that has led to such an impact. This common trait is the development of a culture where people feel safe. Safety leads to the development of stable, adaptive and confident teams. These teams feel like they belong and are willing to take risks and seize opportunities.
In a fascinating discussion, Sinek paid attention to how the Marines ate dinner together. The junior people in the Marines ate first while the most senior Marines fell into the line behind them. He points out the symbolism of this act, which stretches from the mess to hall to the battleground, was simple. Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort and safety for the good of others they lead.
This seems to be a simple yet profound point. In many workplaces one is likely to find cynicism, self-interest and paranoia. But in those organizations where he found leaders who were willing to put their own desires behind the interests of the company or institution, the organization would not only survive but thrive.
Leadership is largely misunderstood. If a person is to be an effective leader, then he/she must set aside his/her own interest and desires and be willing to put the needs of the organization first. Often this means the leader has to sacrifice. Too many people think if they could get into a position of leadership, then they can do what they want and whenever they want to do it. But the evidence is clear. If an organization is to thrive, it will have leaders who are willing to eat last. When that happens others will step up and refuse to stop at nothing to advance the organization’s interests. Are you willing to eat last? Are you able to put aside your own self-interest and put the organization you’re leading, and its interests above yourself? If so, you have the opportunity to make a lasting difference.