Leaders Eat Last
John Quincy Adams would have understood the author’s message because he clearly understood what it was to be a leader when he stated: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
Adams understood that to earn the trust of people, the leaders of an organization must first treat them like people. Empathize.
When people have to manage dangers from inside the organization, the organization itself becomes less able to face the dangers from outside. Every single employee is someone’s son or someone’s daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives.
Strong leaders, in contrast, extend the Circle of Safety to include every single person who works for the organization.
When we feel safe among the people with whom we work, the more likely we are to survive and thrive.
What makes a good leader is that they eschew the spotlight in favor of spending time and energy to do what they need to do to support and protect their people. And when we feel the Circle of Safety around us, we offer our blood and sweat and tears and do everything we can to see our leader’s vision come to life. The only thing our leaders ever need to do is remember whom they serve and it will be our honor and pleasure to serve them back.
Analysts exert too much pressure on managers to meet short-term goals, impeding firms’ investment in long-term innovative projects. The more pressure the leaders of a public company feel to meet the expectations of an outside constituency, the more likely they are to reduce their capacity for better products and services.
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. The moment we are able to make tangible that which had previously been a study or a chart, the moment a statistic or a poll becomes a real living person, the moment abstract concepts are understood to have human consequences, is the moment our ability to solve problems and innovate becomes remarkable.
When we have a sense of belonging, however, we wear the company schwag in public and with pride.
“Those at the top,” explains Captain Marquet, “have all the authority and none of the information. Those at the bottom,” he continues, “have all the information and none of the authority. Not until those without information relinquish their control can an organization run better, smoother, and faster and reach its maximum potential.”
“The goal of a leader is to give no orders,” Captain Marquet explains. “Leaders are to provide direction and intent and allow others to figure out what to do and how to get there.”
All leaders, in order to truly lead, need to walk the halls and spend time with the people they serve, “eyeball leadership,” as the Marines call it. Management By Walking Around (MBWA)
In contrast, when a leader has the humility to distribute power across the organization, the strength of the company becomes less dependent on one person and is thus better able to survive.
Costco has succeeded because it recognizes employees are like family, not in spite of this fact.
Sharing a struggle for limited resources and working with people who are intent on building something out of nothing is a good formula for a small business.