“Leadership is not a rank; it’s a decision,” according to Simon Sinek. I’m a big fan of his work. His previous book, Start with Why, is a simple yet profound look at the missing ingredient in bringing passion and purpose to our work.
Circle of Safety
In his new book and video, “Leaders Eat Last,” he discusses the biological component of working with and building trust with people. He shows how we are biologically wired to connect. Leaders need to tap into that through empathy by creating a “Circle of Safety”, an environment where everyone feels safe and secure, where people protect each other. They need to work for their employees within that circle to ensure that they feel safe and can thrive.
For Sinek, It’s a choice. You get to decide to look after the people to the right and the left of you. Our survival as a human species has depended on this. Highly effective organizations do this, mirroring the adaptive traits of humans to survive and thrive by caring for each other.
Real Leaders Make Sacrifices
Sinek examines how four neurochemicals incentivize us to repeat behaviors.
- Dopamine – gratification, tied to addiction
- Cortisol – Fear, stress
- Oxytocin – Serving, being a part of something
- Endorphins – Runner’s high
Feeling addicted to performance? “Commit to service another.” Oxytocin and seratonin gets created. You FEEL better because you are flooding your body with neurochemicals that come when you connect with others.
Working in high stress environments causes cortisol to flood the body. In this first stage of fight or flight, glucose is injected into our muscles. Moreover, if you’re nervous, others get nervous too. We’re not unlike the gazelles. When one of them is spooked by a loud noise, they all break out running as a herd. This is an ingrained survival technique. Cortisol is there to keep us alive. For us to be self-interested, Cortisol shuts down non-essential systems such as growth and immunity. It inhibits the release of oxytocin making us less generous and less empathetic. It can even make us paranoid.
Sinek observes “our jobs are killing us and the people responsible are killing us. Our companies are killing us.” It is your willingness to sacrifice for someone that makes you a leader; not your rank.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” To see more about these concepts watch Sinek’s keynote address here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRcHdeUG9Y or buy his book here: http://www.amazon.com/Leaders-Eat-Last-Together-Others/dp/159184532
I invite you to post your comments here. I specialize in helping leaders engage in creating empathy, trust and connection with your teams. For more information, contact me at susansfreeman.com/services. Step up and become a leader who eats last.