Leaders Eat Last Summary: Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last Summary

Leaders Eat Last Summary provides a free book summary, key takeaways, review, top quotes, author biography and other vital points of Simon Sinek’s book. Simon Sinek discusses how to support your team so that it can win.

Sinek challenges assumptions in this bestseller. Assumptions regarding why and how people get inspired by leaders and companies. While studying this, Sinek had a session with many high-achieving people. These included the representatives of Congress, corporate leaders, and seniors of US military. His study of leadership starts with the war in Afghanistan. It then shifts to Paleolithic times, passes through ancient Greece and World War 2. And finally, it comes to the financial crisis of 2008.

Sinek uses many historical examples to show how the best leaders inspire trust. These successful leaders keep the interests of others over their own. He draws many instances from the armed forces. There he served as a consultant of leadership. In the military, a high-trust culture is equal to a matter of life and death. We recommend this book Leaders Eat Last to everyone. If you want to know how great leaders prioritize others before themselves, give it a read. 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” 

Leaders Eat Last Summary

In Ancient Greece

Sparta was a warrior community. It was a small city-state. Hence, it had a small army. But, this army-inspired admiration and dread compared to its small size. It was mainly because of the courage, power, and grit of its soldiers. Sinek explains why Spartans kept their strictest punishments for soldiers who surrendered/lost their shields. One soldier laying down his shield put a whole set of fighters at risk. There was no disgrace in losing a helmet or a sword. Such things happen on a battlefield. It only puts the soldier in question at risk. But, losing a shield puts everyone at risk. Any soldier who lost his shield would lose his most precious asset. That is his Spartan citizenship. An establishment is only as powerful as the trust its people have in each other.

When members feel vulnerable in their group distrust arises. Also, when leaders put their interests first, a group becomes dysfunctional. Hence, a leader’s key role is to ensure his people pull together. The sacrifices they make drive this effort. Sinek says that many corporate leaders look out just for their interests. This costs their firms credibility and money. He openly calls out companies that put shareholder value over their people. And, he finds many of them doing so. This is rarely a revolutionary opinion. But, it is great to read someone who acknowledges that not all leaders are kind and helpful.

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” 

Oxytocin and Cortisol

Sinek explains the hardwiring which leads us to cooperate with one another. This cooperation within the group repels outside threats. Prehistoric humans could survive tigers and famine by working together.

When people collaborate toward an aim, their brain produces a happy chemical. This is oxytocin. But, in a negative environment, it releases a stress chemical, i.e., cortisol. And, this is released in excess. Sinek depends a lot on brain chemistry to describe behavior. But, in general, he claims that a high-trust environment makes great business sense.

Happy workers are releasing oxytocin work harder and longer. They are also more enthusiastic. In contrast, a culture of distrust chokes not just cooperation, but inspiration also. The negative impacts of working in such a place restrict worker performance. 

Tribal Practices

Sinek tries to set a running similarity between tribes and workplaces. Both tribes and offices have culture, language, and symbols. Sinek claims that hierarchy is a natural way in the real world. It is the way of human nature and survival. Internal equity is only a myth. He gives an example of tribal people beating each other to get meat from a kill. People who are pushed aside by stronger tribe members never believe those who dominated them.  Also, the dominant never believe the weaker ones. Hence, Sinek asserts, “we evolve as hierarchical animals.”

Sinek claims that nowadays nobody protests people higher in the hierarchy. The ones higher than others have better parking places or even better food. But, no one objects to this. Maybe Sinek spent a lot of time around military people. There, a high rank has many privileges. Or, perhaps Sinek was too much around the higher ranks of corporate USA. In such ranks, maybe people do not object. If they do, they would be instantly fired. Instead, Sinek should have been more with bottom-line people. The ones who he thinks did not pass some Darwinian tests. Sinek may be surprised at so many of them complaining about senior executives looking for themselves.

“The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.” 

Suggested Reading: Good to Great Summary: Jim Collins

Suggested Reading: How to Gain Financial Freedom? Autonomy Is What You Want

Exemplary Naval Leadership

David Marquet prospered at the American Naval Academy. He was extraordinary in all his assignments too. Sinek describes him as some who have good orders. He achieved a high Naval honor command of the USS Olympia. It was a nuclear-powered, LA-class, rapid-attack submarine.

The quick-attack subs are the most hardcore vessels in the US Navy. Continuous stress and greatest-possible performance standards are marks of rapid-attack service.

Captain Marquet spent a year researching his ship. He focused on his people. He believed that to lead properly; he must know his people too. But, at the last moment, he had to give up the command of the Olympia. Instead, he was made in-charge of USS Santa Fe. This vessel had the lowest-ranking staff in the whole fleet.

Sinek writes this tale with careful detail. But, such detail would be more effective if it was not a part of other leadership books. Though, to be fair, books after Sinek’s stole his portrayal of the story.

After a disappointing trial-and-error, Marquet found that his new troop would obey every order. That too, without giving it any thought and reason. Such an approach had a huge inherent risk. Marquet could give a wrong order as he did not have enough time to study Santa Fe. And the staff would obey it not considering the possible risk.

How Marquet Turned the Lowest-Ranked Crew into the Best-Ranked Crew

Sinek says that subs are not like companies. Once at sea, an underperforming worker cannot be replaced. Marquet was faced with a mediocre squad. Plus, he was unprepared due to lack of time. So, he organized a new shift in the protocol. He gave the authority to the ones who had the most information.

Marquet surrendered his level of command. He accepted the initiative and gave freedom to the sailors. Being a leader, he did offer direction to the crew. But, he did not give orders. He trusted in every sailor’s motivation and ability.

Marquet allowed a new shift in naval procedure. Now the staff did not have to ask for permission to do something. Instead, the sailor would say, “I intend to” do that task. This change ensured that the crewmember doing the task now owned it. The Santa-Fe squad then became the “best-rated squad in Naval history.” 

Communal Trust

Sinek’s presentation of Santa Fe story captures his outlook. He does recognize and promotes the need for hierarchy in the human world. But, he also feels that great leaders take responsibility for their people. He claims that responsibility and the resultant trust leads to the joint effort. This makes the path for a great civilization. The main job of effective leaders is to encourage such a willingness to share. Sinek’s book is wise and accessible. It will support leaders who wish to create that trust. 

“As the Zen Buddhist saying goes, how you do anything is how you do everything.” 

Leaders Eat Last Review 

This new book by Simon Sinek is thought-spurring and inspiring. This is mainly because of his use of relatable metaphors to demonstrate his message – how our bodies and minds have evolved, military protocols and even parenthood. Sinek writes in detail about strong and historical factors which have not just molded our culture in general, but which also influence our actions as human beings.

This book does not throw any new leadership theory at the readers. Nor does it have over-complex tables, graphs or acronyms.  It simply outlines the core principles of doing the correct things and getting benefits from both personal and business standpoints. All the subjects he writes about smartly make their way back to consistent premises and serve as laying-stones to the next section. And as this occurs, readers find themselves involved in the book which is so unlike the plenty of other leadership manuals we have.

Every study and tale offer a great lesson for managers and leaders, to help them take better care of their people and focus on the well-being of their company. Though this manual may not carry new principles or theories, after reading it one can learn so much regarding how to become a great leader.

Marquet’s story has been used in many other leadership books as well. It is a staple in most books. But, to be fair, Sinek’s presentation of the story is remarkable and many books after his, have stolen his presentation.

Sinek talks about issues from all perspectives – the managers, workers and the society on the whole. He recognizes both the idealistic and realistic aspects of business scenarios as they pertain to leadership.

To be conclusive, this leadership manual is as refreshingly easy to adopt as it is stimulating. Also, the title speaks for itself.

Suggested Reading: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary: Stephen R. Covey

Suggested Reading: Think and Grow Rich Summary: Napoleon Hill

Leaders Eat Last Quotes

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” 

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” 

“The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.” 

“As the Zen Buddhist saying goes, how you do anything is how you do everything.” 

“Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones are able to find.” 

“And when a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.” 

“It is not the genius at the top giving directions that makes people great. It is great people that make the guy at the top look like a genius.” 

“If our leaders are to enjoy the trappings of their position in the hierarchy, then we expect them to offer us protection. The problem is, for many of the overpaid leaders, we know that they took the money and perks and didn’t offer protection to their people. In some cases, they even sacrificed their people to protect or boost their own interests. This is what so viscerally offends us. We only accuse them of greed and excess when we feel they have violated the very definition of what it means to be a leader.” 

“Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.” 

“Children are better off having a parent who works into the night in a job they love than a parent who works shorter hours but comes home unhappy.” 

“Stress and anxiety at work have less to do with the work we do and more to do with weak management and leadership.” 

“Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.” 

“Integrity is when our words and deeds are consistent with our intentions.” 

About the Author 

Simon Sinek’s other bestseller is Start with Why. It has the same name as the name of his TED Talk. His TED Talk is the second most watched video on TED.com. Sinek also wrote Together Is Better with David Mead.


Having read this Leaders Eat Last Summary, what do you think? Do you have any thought you would like to share with us? Please feel free to share it with us!

Suggested Reading: The Power of Habit Summary: Charles Duhigg

Suggested Reading: The Tipping Point Summary: Malcolm Gladwell


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here