Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Leaders Eat Last

Citation for Book: Sinek, Simon. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.  New York, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2014

Recommended by: : Jack J. Chen, Marshall B. Ketchum University

Star Rating (1-5): 5

Review: Leaders Eat Last. This sums up leadership behavior. The title of the book is derived from an observation of culture in the US Marines in which the leaders eat last, placing the needs of others above their own, and illustrating that leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest. Another corollary example he gives is that leaders provide cover from above; allowing the people on the ground to feel safe. This instills loyalty and drives people to excel in situations.

Writing in an easy to understand manner, Mr. Sineks speaks about leadership from an anthropological voice and utilizes facts and observations to illustrate his points. Much of what is discussed relates to organic attributes (such as empathy, integrity, sense of belonging, teamwork, selfishness, distrust, and trust) and how a leader can be more in tune with these primal elements to foster an environment for a healthier organization. The title of the book resonates with me because I immediately understand it’s anthropological underpinnings. As a parent, I often eat last and provide cover from above to my family and children. As an organizational leader, the challenge will be to live up to this credo.

In this book, the anthropological and primal concept of the Circle of Safety is introduced. Leaders, by reducing the threats people feel inside an organization, allows them to focus more time and energy to protect the organization from external threats and to seize opportunities for the advancing the collective. He gives illustrations on how incentive structures within organizations can penalize employees for behaviors such as cooperation, information sharing, or reaching across the organization to ask for or offer help; behaviors that are necessary for maintaining the Circle of Safety. Mr. Sinek devotes 2 chapters on discussing and illustrating the role of neurotransmitters and molecules (e.g., cortisol, dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin) as organic mediators of human behavior, neurocognition, stress, trust, and the Circle of Safety. Mr. Sinek then weaves these organic concepts throughout his book.

Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives and not numbers. Mr. Sinek believes this and provides corollaries to describe the modern state of business cultures in which the sheer scale of systems has made human lives, resources and services into an abstraction of numerical metrics. He provides a clarion call for managers of metrics to become leaders of people. Values alignment is heavily emphasized. If people have values consistent with the organization and they feel trusted and connected, they will excel.

Mr. Sinek speaks about the role of technology throughout the various “generations” (e.g., Gen X and Y), and how it has allowed the unprecedented “upscaling” of world and certain elements such as acquisitions, economies, performances, and processes. As I reflected, I realized that in the world of education, despite technological advances in instructional tools and delivery, our students’ inherent “learning speed” cannot be scaled up by technology (despite what we or our students think) and that time-tested, traditional methods of andragogy/pedagogy still have a fundamental place in the classroom. My students are someone’s children. Their parents worked hard to give their children an opportunity for a good life and education. As an academician, I have responsibility for that education.

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Filed under Changing Perceptions/Paradigms, Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Instructor Resources

Mind of a Manager Soul of a Leader

Mind of a managerHickman, CR. Mind of a Manager, Soul of a Leader. New York, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1992.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, Regis University School of Pharmacy

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: As the title suggest, Mind of a Manager, Soul of a Leader explores the differences between managers and leaders and between management and leadership. At the heart of this book is the premise that any successful enterprise requires both effective managers and effective leaders, and Hickman explores how the skills of each may be best leveraged. I recommend this book to leader development instructors who are looking for ideas on how to explain the difference between leadership and management or are looking for an effective argument that both are necessary for success.

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Filed under Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Instructor Resources

Heroic Leadership

Heroic LeadershipLowney, C.  Heroic Leadership. Chicago, Illinois: Loyola Press, 2003.

Recommended b: Michael Nelson, Regis University School of Pharmacy

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: Heroic Leadership discusses leadership in the context of the “4 Pillars” of leadership principles that the early Jesuits practiced. The result was a game-changer for religious orders, in which the Jesuits became a religious order which sought to help others through solidarity and education, rather than by seclusion in a monastery. Given the times, the early Jesuits were amazingly successful at leading this change, and time has proven their sustainability as evidenced by the present-day impact of Jesuit higher education.  Lowney argues that these principles are timeless and critical to effective leadership, and that leadership is much more of a personal journey rather than learning a set of leadership tips. I recommend this book for those who would like to read a book with a refreshingly different approach to addressing timeless leadership principles.

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Filed under Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Instructor Resources

The End of Leadership

EndOfLeadershipKellerman, Barbara.  The End of Leadership.  New York, NY: Harper Business.

Recommended by:  Renae Chesnut, Drake University CoP

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: This book provides a history of leadership theories and the rise of the “leadership industry”, along with a critical assessment of the leadership courses, development programs, etc.  I found it thought-provoking as Barbara Kellerman stresses that as a society, we are spending more than ever before (~50 billion) on leadership yet, we seem to have more leadership collapses and failures than we have ever had before.

My ‘take-aways’ from the book include:

1)  The potential collapse of Leaders (note the big L) is greater today than ever before due to social media and other communication technologies. One mistake today can spread like wildfire and brand the leader as “inept or corrupt.”

2)  In our society today, the balance of power between leaders and followers has shifted, with leaders becoming weaker and followers becoming stronger. As such, we need to teach and develop followership skills in our students.

3)  The importance of including ethical foundations in any leadership course or development program are more important than ever before.

I was a bit disappointed that Kellerman did not provide more recommendations on what we as leadership educators should do to solve these issues…my guess is that those answers will be forthcoming in her next book!

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Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Heath C, Heath D.  Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  New York, NY; Random House, 2010.

Recommended by:  Tom Munyer, U of FL  CoP

 Star Rating: 5 (It’s Great)

Review:  New York Times Best Seller, authors of MADE TO STICK, another Best Seller.  Easy read, “story-driven narrative” where they address both the rational and emotional parts of our minds. They show how to effect transformative change… how successful changes follows a pattern, that can be used to make changes that matter.

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Filed under Changing Perceptions/Paradigms

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership

Heifetz R, Grashow A, and Linsky M.  The Practice of Adaptive Leadership.  Boston, MA:  Harvard Business School Publishing, 2009.

Recommended by:  Todd Sorensen, U of MN CoP

Star Rating: 4 (Really Liked It)

Review:  “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership” is the applied version of Heifetz and Linsky’s book “Leadership on the Line.”  While many audiences can take away important lessons from this book, it is most specifically written to positional leaders in large organizations.

The book is sequenced across 5 themes:  1) Introduction to Adaptive Leadership,  2) Diagnosing the System,  3) Mobilizing the System,  4) See Yourself as a System and 5) Deploy Yourself.  Each section moves into concepts and strategies focused on addressing the difficult work of leading adaptive change in organizations.

Most of the book operates at level that would be well beyond what would typically be covered in leadership development coursework for pharmacy students.  At the University of Minnesota, our work with Adaptive Leadership has been primarily to ensure that students can recognize the difference between adaptive challenges and technical problems.  We also highlight the importance of perspective (concept of “Getting on the Balcony”).  From this book, we are currently only using the second chapter (“The Theory Behind the Practice”) as a “just in time” reading for senior students enrolled in a leadership emphasis program while they are engaged in an effort where they have assumed responsibility for leading change.

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Filed under Instructor Resources, Organizational Change/Excellence, Pharmacy Student Electives-Advanced

Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence

Goleman D, Boyatzis R, McKee A.  Primal Leadership:  Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence.  Harvard Boston, MA:  Business Review Press, 2004.

Recommended by:  Susanna Wu-Pong, VCU SoP

Star Rating: 4 (Really Liked It)

Review:  This book is a helpful addition to an EQ assessment.

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Filed under Personal Development, Pharmacy Graduate Students