Analysis of “Leaders Eat Last” through Army Leadership Perspective

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In the book, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, the author describes leadership as the responsibility for caring for your people. Through caring, it is especially a priority to make your subordinates feel safe. Sinek uses many authentic life examples throughout the book in which leaders created a “circle of safety” around their employees. As the intent of the mission is shared through everyone in the unit, the increase in the size of the “circle of safety.” Thus, the faster the progress.

Sinek also describes the impact that leaders have on their subordinates. As leaders, we may not always be aware of the impact that we make on our followers. Comparing the leaders of two large organizations, Costco and GE, we can clearly observe the difference between long-term and short-term leadership. Jack Welch, the CEO of GE, would fire the bottom ten percent of his managers to increase his profits. As it did increase short-term profit, it created a hostile environment. On the other hand, Jeff Sinegal, the CEO of Costco, rewarded his higher ranked employees to give them competition within the ranks and increase stability. This can be measured in a long-term aspect as he increased company profit and performance.

The Army defines leadership in ADRP 6-22 (pg 1-1) as the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. The Army Leadership Requirements Model describes the leader attributes and competencies essential of an Army leader. As a future leader, it is important to tie the doctrine that is engrained in our studies along with life-or-death examples that Sinek provides to increase our character and professional competence.

Character – “Discipline”

Discipline is defined as to willingly do what is right. At the individual level, self-discipline is the ability to control one’s own behavior. In chapter 19, page 185, Simon Sinek portrays a story in which a Marine training to be an officer in the candidacy program fell asleep during his fireguard shift. The Marine would have been punished for falling asleep, his mistake could have been exonerated. However, his lack of self-discipline and integrity to take responsibility for his actions had him expulsed from the program.

As leaders, we must have the discipline to take responsibility for our actions and those of our subordinates at the time of the incident, and not once we are caught. This discipline is reflected in the Army values personal courage and duty. The Marine failed his duty to protect his comrades. It was his obligation to stand guard for that shift. He also lacked personal moral courage to take responsibility for his actions. Failing at a task can be a devastating experience to one’s ego. Yet, the failure to take responsibility for his own negligence shows a lack of character and personal moral courage.

Finally, discipline is reflected through the Army Value of integrity. As the Marine officer candidate denied his error until presented with undisputable evidence, he lied and did not hold himself accountable. Integrity is critical to trust, and trust is the foundation to any unit in combat. Qualities as small as the self-discipline to recognize your errors is critical to the Army. As leaders, we must hold each other accountable for our decisions and actions.

Intellect- “Sound Judgment”

In ADRP 6-22, the Army defines judgement as the capacity to assess situations shrewdly and to draw rational conclusions. Leaders acquire sound judgment through experience of observing others and learning from their experiences. Leaders must look at facts, debatable information, and intuition to attain at a valuable conclusion.

In chapter one of Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek tells the story of an A-10 pilot flying as air support during a top secret Special Forces mission. The story takes place at nighttime in Afghanistan, and the weather was excessively cloudy. At the climax of the contact, the troops on the ground were ambushed from all angles, as they were at the base of a valley. Johnny Bravo, the lead A-10 pilot, then used his sound judgement to develop a plan to assist the troops in contact. As he could not see them due to the fog, Johnny Bravo had to use his sound judgement to assess the probability of mission success. He then flew low enough to support the troops without losing any of the soldiers below.

Sound judgement is key to the capability to establish possible plans and decide what action to take. Leaders must juggle the pros and cons before choosing their course of action. Johnny Bravo weighed his consequences before taking action. And as he helped in achieving this mission, many lives were saved because of his actions.

Leads- “Builds Trust”

Leaders must build relationships with subordinates, with trust as the foundation. As leaders, it is important to encourage a culture and climate of trust. In chapter nine, Sinek discusses a story in which an air traffic controller broke the rules in order to save 126 people aboard a commercial airline flight. U.S. Airlines flight KH209 was 36,000 feet in the air when smoke began to fill the cockpit. At that time, the pilots called in to their trusted and experienced air traffic controller and he walked them through the steps to save them from their fate. Sinek states, “We don’t just trust people to obey the rules, we also trust that they know when to break them. Leaders must trust that they have the control to do what is right, even if it means breaking the rules.
Trust is gained when subordinates understand that their Army leader has character, competence, and commitment. All three of these qualities are required in combat to make the decisions that could result in the loss of life, or taking the lives of others. A leader may know all of the regulations and doctrine, yet if they lack character, trust is reduced at the subordinate level. The leader may be exceedingly competent at mission success, but at the expense of his soldiers or in a way that results in unnecessary loss of life to citizens on the frontline. Professional relationships established on trust increase predictability and cohesion among the team.


It is necessary for leaders to follow all of the competencies and attributes listed in the Army leadership requirements model. Sinek uses the example of Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion formula, f = ma, as a direct comparison to how leaders should run their organization. The force acquired as leaders is equal to the mass times acceleration. Mass is represented as the size of the unit, and acceleration is the momentum built as an element. The more force that a leader would like to achieve, the more manpower and espirit de corps is required.

As a future Army leader, I learned from Leaders Eat Last that I must put my soldiers before myself and make them feel secure. Reflecting on Sinek’s “Circle of Safety,” soldiers will feel safer and secure as they can focus their time on seizing personal opportunities and helping the unit to thrive. A component’s performance is directly correlated by the prioritized contentment of all of the soldiers in the element.

Leadership is not solely made up of those who sit at the highest points of the chain of command. Leadership is comprised of everyone who has the smallest impact on another person. As Army leaders with higher rank do have more responsibility on a greater skill, each person in the Army has a duty to keep others protected, and within our “circle of safety.” Sinek ends Leaders Eat Last with a quote that I wish to remember every day, “Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.”


Cite this paper

Analysis of “Leaders Eat Last” through Army Leadership Perspective. (2022, Mar 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/analysis-of-leaders-eat-last-through-army-leadership-perspective/



What are the main points of Leaders Eat Last?
The book Leaders Eat Last is about the importance of leaders taking care of their people. Leaders need to create a safe and trusting environment where people feel like they belong and are valued.
Why are leaders always last?
A leader is always last because they are responsible for the safety of their team. A leader also needs to make sure that their team is successful in their mission.
Why do Leaders Eat Last summary?
In the "Why do Leaders Eat Last" summary, it is explained that leaders need to set the example for their employees and show that they are willing to make sacrifices for the good of the company. Leaders also need to show that they are approachable and willing to listen to their employees' concerns.
Why do military Leaders Eat Last?
In the 20th century, men were typically the breadwinners and women were typically the homemakers.
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