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Leaders Eat Last: FINAL PROJECT
This summer I took an independent study class for the book, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. This principle has been true since the earliest tribes of hunters and gatherers. It’s not a management theory; it’s biology. Our brains and bodies evolved to help us find food, shelter, mates, and especially, safety. We’ve always lived in a dangerous world, facing predators and enemies at every turn. We thrived only when we felt safe among our group.

Our biology hasn’t changed in fifty thousand years, but our environment certainly has. Today’s workplaces tend to be full of cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best organizations foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a Circle of Safety that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

The Circle of Safety lead to stable, adaptive, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong and all energies are devoted to facing the common enemy and seizing big opportunities. The biology is clear: when it matters most, leaders who are willing to eat last are rewarded with deeply loyal colleagues who will stop at nothing to advance their leader’s vision and their groups best interests. The author’s point of view is well supported from a wide range of examples, from the military to manufacturing, government to investment banking.

ALL OF US ARE LEADERS. There are many applications of the principles in this book to each and every person in a school organization. Obvious, we know the vital role in leadership and influence of administration. What is not as obvious at first glance is the essential leadership each and every person in the school building could and should play every day.

I found this book to be thought provoking on all levels – personally and professionally. Every classroom is a community. Grade levels are communities. The cafeteria is a community. The school bus is a community. Each of us is a “queen” or “king” of a specific domain at school – classroom, caseload, building and grounds, kitchen, playground, cafeteria, assigned student, within the personal friendships we make with those on staff…. Each of us has a realm of influence where we need to be the kind of leader that chooses to eat last for the good of others.

The Circle of Safety
A lion used to prowl bout a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.
----- Aesop, sixth century B.C.

Be the leader that will create a Circle of Safety in your sphere of influence. The ability of a group of people to do remarkable things in the face of challenges and dangers hinges on how well those people pull together as a team.
TED TalK: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe
TED Talk- Why Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek
10 Big Ideas from Leaders Eat Last
How to Lead Millenials
What Millenials Can Do
What We Can Do As Parents
OUR NEED TO FEEL SAFE: Protection from Above
Capt. Mike Drowley (a.k.a, Johnny Bravo) was an A-10 attack aircraft pilot assigned to protect ground troops engaged in Special Ops missions in Afghanistan in the year following September 11. During one such mission, Johnny Bravo and a wingman were flying above 22 special ops ground troops. But due to heavy cloud cover and mountainous terrain, Johnny Bravo was unable to see the troops. Radio contact alerted him that those troops were under enemy attack with one simple message; “Troops in contact.”

In 2002 the instrumentation he had were not able to prevent him from hitting the mountain walls. And he was flying with old Soviet maps from the 1980s. But there was no way he was going to let down those troops who were counting on protection from above. “There are fates worse than death. One fate worse than death is accidentally killing your own men. Another fate worse than death is going home alive when 22 others don’t.”

Calculating his speed and assumed distances from valley floor and mountain sides, he dove his plane down through the clouds and was able to see the enemy positions from which heavy enemy fire was coming. He pulled up sharply to avoid the mountain wall and circled back to do the same run, this time with his Gatling gun ready. He repeatedly made this run until he ran out of ammo. He then flew up and instructed the less experienced wingman to follow him down. The two A-10s, flying less than three feet apart from each other, wing to wing. Johnny Bravo did the counting and his wingman followed his lead and laid down the fire. On cue, the two planes each pulled high -G turns together and repeatedly went around.

That night, 22 men went home alive. There were no American casualties. Johnny Bravo risked his life so that others might survive. He received no performance bonus, didn’t get a promotion or an award, no undue attention or reality TV show…. For him, it was just part of his job. And he reports that the greatest reward for him was meeting the forces for whom he provided top cover that night. Though they had never met before, when they finally did meet, they hugged like old friends.

Johnny Bravo says that the greatest asset he has to do his job is empathy. Ask any of the remarkable men and women in uniform who have risked themselves for the benefit of others.

Exceptional organizations all have cultures in which the leaders provide cover from above and the people on the ground look out for each other. We do not work in an environment where we are asked to risk our lives to save anybody else’s, but do we work in an organization where we would gladly share our glory and help those with whom we work succeed? Do we work in an environment where leaders prioritize the well-being of their people and in return, the people give everything they’ve got to protect and advance the well-being of one another and the organization?

Leadership, true leadership, is not just for those who sit at the top. It is the responsibility of anyone who belongs to the group. Though those with rank may have authority to work at greater scale, each of us has a responsibility to keep the Circle of Safety strong. We must all start today to do little things for the good of others….. one day at a time.
The only reason people like Johnny Bravo, or any soldier, sailor, airman or marine, are willing to risk their lives for the person to the left or right of them is because they have the utmost confidence that the person at their side would do the same for them.
I must ask myself honestly, am I a person someone would want to be in a foxhole with?