Book summary of ‘Leaders eat last – Why some teams pull together and others don’t By Simon Sinek

Leaders eat last

SUMMARISED BY PAUL ARNOLD: STRATEGIC PLANNER, FACILITATOR, TRAINER (paul_arnold@me.com)

The book in a nutshell

We achieve so much more when we work together. Yet our obsession with ever-shortening financial goals is making us lose-sight of what is really important — the employees. Leaders are creating a caustic environment that is killing co-operation. 

Chemicals control our emotions and hence our behaviour. Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin help push us to achieve things (together). However, financial driven goals linked to bonuses are pushing our behaviour into competitive, isolationist behaviours which triggers the over-secretion of Cortisol (which effectively closes down our immune systems). 

Leaders therefore need to create Oxytocin infused organisations that stimulates collaboration.

The book

Leadership

Trust – Successful organisations have a strong culture create trust amongst its members.  

Trust is the most important quality any person or organisation must have to maintain long-term relationships. Trust is like a lubricant. It reduces friction and increases performance. However, it’s very easy to break trust. Critically, leaders need to understand the importance of people and relationships to achieve their vision.

In August 2002, in Afghanistan, Captain Mark Drowley (nicknamed Johnny Bravo) performed a ‘let down’ in his A10 attack aircraft (where they fly close to the ground in range of enemy fire, to ascertain the movements of the troops). When asked afterwards why he decided to do such a brave move, he simply replied. “Because they would have done it for me”. His heroic attitude and actions are part of the military’s culture.

In the days of the industrial revolution (and after), people were treated like machines. Clock in. Clock out. Emotionless. Just a constant drive for higher productivity. So it was at Hayssen Sandiacre. When Bob Chapman took over the ailing company, he saw the workers joking together in the tea room, but lose all their lifeblood when they went back into the factory (80% of people surveyed by Deloitte’s were dissatisfied with their jobs). He wanted them to enjoy their time at the workbench and not just in the canteen. He listened to the workers describe how they were not trusted, were watched and monitored all the time. Chapman recognised the need for greater humanity in the workplace. He allowed the workers greater autonomy, treating them with dignity, respect and trust. This changing attitude helped increase turnover from $55m to $95m.

Culture – A culture is often described as the hidden hand of control. Staff unconsciously follow the values, beliefs and ‘ways of doing things’ of an organisation. When the culture is strong, it guides behaviour (and vice versa when the culture is weak). A key role of leadership is to maintain/develop a strong culture. Cultures that solely reward financial achievements shift the organisation away from its values. Bad cultures breed bad leaders and hence, bad employees.Weak cultures make people do what is right for them and not what is right for the organisation.

‘Long term greedy’ is how a past employee coined the way Goldman Sachs operated. Goldman Sachs had a very strong culture in the past. People had to be a high standard of character to be accepted into the firm. In 1999, they went public, leading to an explosion in financial innovation. A new type of aggressive trader came in. The company’s culture started to shift. Old company values (such as ethics) got swept to one side by the allure of rapid profits and eye-watering bonuses; people were pitched against each other leading to low trust, low respect and low accountability. The environment was one of ‘win at all costs’ — even of it meant squashing their co-workers. The culture had turned ‘toxic’.

Vs…

In November 2008, terrorists raided the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai with automatic weapons, killing 31 people. Employees risked their lives to save their guests, forming human rings around them, and returned back inside to help rescue other guests. The culture was totally geared to putting the guests first. When recruiting, they class empathy and respect higher than academic grades.

Parent-Leader – To be put in charge of someone is a special gift. Like a parent, a manager/leader is responsible for developing their potential. We should treat our employees as if they are family.  When the going gets tough at home, we see it through thick and thin — together. In work we should sacrifice the numbers to save the people — not vice versa.  When you stand behind your people, they stand behind you. If you grow your people, you grow your numbers.

Leadership requires a commitment and constant attention to managing the dynamic ecosystem of teams. It takes time. Like a parent they have to make personal sacrifices for the common good of the organisation.

Charlie Kim of Next Jump has instituted a Lifetime employment policy — i.e. no-one gets fired — they just get coached. He says you would never fire your kids, so why fire your people? This led to a massive change in the culture. People started communicating more openly. Mistakes and problems were pointed out quicker, and productivity shot up. Average revenue has grown by 25% every year since.

Lead the people, not the numbers – Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives not just numbers. Lives are, after all, more important than numbers. The reality is, if we look after the people, the numbers will take care of themselves. 

With an eye only on short-term wealth, leaders cannot hope to inspire confidence as the quickest way to increasing profit is reducing cost. Furthermore, with the eye-watering explosion of bonuses to senior Directors, it is no surprise this policy still continues. Our new obsession with shareholder wealth is killing the ‘golden-goose’ of employee collaboration.

Empowerment – The strength of a leader needs to be measured as much by the legacy s/he leaves behind them. Research shows that organisations led by an empowering leader outperform ‘directive style leadership organisations’ as a higher level of team-learning, empowerment and collaboration is built into the culture. Good leadership is like exercise. You will not see an immediate improvement, but it will pay-off in the long run.

Captain David Marquet was a distinguished sub-marina, who was put in charge of USS Sante Fe (which was ranked last in the Navy metrics). One day, he issued a command, “Ahead two-thirds”. However no change was made. When he asked the helmsman why no change was made, the deputy replied that on this vessel there was no ‘two-thirds’. When Marquet challenged him why he accepted the order, the office replied, “Because you told me to”.  He noted that people at the top have all the power but none of the information (and vice versa). This triggered a whole new way which he managed the submarine. Instead of a top-down command system, he empowered all staff with the power of making the right decision. Leaders were addicted to power and control. The language was changed from “Sir, Request permission to…” to, “Sir, I intend to…” This way the person now owned the action. This massively built morale and bridged a new quality of relationship. Sante Fe then cruised up to becoming the best rated crew in all Navy history. Captain Marquet comments, “The goal of a leader is to give no orders. Leaders are to provide direction…and then allow others to figure out what to do”. A leader’s role is to help develop their teams to make better quality decisions.

The malaise of abstraction (To see, to touch, to feel, to care) – The greater the detachment

 the greater the abstraction. If we don’t know them, we don’t care for them. So as companies become bigger and more global, so the people who operate the purse strings do not care about the individual. The less you know someone, the easier it is to make them redundant (or fail to promote/give them pay rises etc).

In 1961, Stanley Milgram invited people (supposedly randomly) to be the teacher. The teacher sat in a room, with a microphone and speaker, and a large shock generator. In another room was another subject who was subjected to increasing intensity shocks if they got answers to questions wrong. It was up to the teacher to deliver these shocks in 15 volt increments up to a supposed 450 volts. The question was, would a person follow orders from an authority figure (a man in a white coat) and deliver life threatening shocks? Sadly many people did (65% when in a separate room). In one variation the supposed learner (victim) sat next to the teacher. In these situations, the level of compliance was significantly lower. The more you know/see/feel a person the more you will care for them. Physical presence creates deep emotional bonds.

Numbers of people aren’t people. They’re just numbers. “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of a million is a statistic” said Joseph Stalin. The greater the distance from any individual, the less we care. The same goes with number as physical space.

James Sinegal was the co-founder of CostCo. He saw his employees as ‘family’ and rewarded loyalty and trust. He encouraged a collaborative culture where everyone ‘looks out for each other’ rather than being in competition with each other. In 2009, there was a drop in sales by 27%. Unlike other retailers also caught up in the recession, he decided to raise salaries rather than cutting them as he realised his staff needed more help in hard times, not less.  “Wall Street is in the business of making money between now and next Tuesday. We’re in the business of building an organisation, an institution that we hope will be here in 50 years from now”. CostCo therefore has a higher than average loyalty levels and have a policy of promoting from within (2/3 of Managers first started as cashiers) – Customers will never love a company until the employers love it first.

The curse of isolation at the top – Power often shuts the leader off from the world. Paranoia can often set-in, with the leader believing that everyone is against them. They then create extra barriers with people and processes to protect themselves, further exacerbating the separation from reality. Ultimately the organisation suffers.

Ethics – If there are no regulations, people lose sight of morals. Whenever we have seen a ‘relaxing’ of rules (in the false belief of improving the freedom of commerce) we have seen organisations push quickly into that space i.e. it is not ethics that holds people back. It’s the law.

Bank of America tried to charge their customers $5 per month to use their credit cards. After an angry outburst from its customers, it reversed its decision. Rather than admitting it was a mistake, they tried to justify it (even spinning different stories to the financial community and another to the public), pouring further fuel onto the fire of outrage and mistrust. 

Vs….

Ralph Lauren’s Argentinian division was found to be giving bribes/incentives to government officials to speed through shipments. When central Head Office found out, instead of trying to cover it up, they self-reported it to US authorities. In the end they were fined $1.6m — but it was ‘good value’ as it helped protect (even enhance) their reputation. 

These may both be small examples but often they are a testament to how the organisation operates overall. As the Zen Buddhist saying goes, ‘How you do anything is how you do everything’.

Carrot versus the stick – Bosses may have some call of authority and order over their employees, but the stick is less powerful than having an inspiring purpose to chase. The carrot is ultimately more powerful. Companies need to re-axis themselves. Profit merely allows them the ability to do what they really want to do. Often there is higher ambition in serving the needs of others than in merely serving ourselves. Costco and SouthWest Airline are two classic examples of organisations who put their staff first, customers second and shareholders third. It is only by successfully serving the first two, can the third be fed. Setting goals of being the number one… merely serves oneself. We must set our vision/purpose towards serving others first.

Psychological safety

Circle of safety – We all perform better when we feel safe. When threatened, we close down, become defensive, agitated, stressed and aggressive. It saps our energy and our spirit. The reason why homo sapiens dominated the planet is because they worked together. Not only can we protect all our families from external threats, but with more hands and minds, we can achieve so much more than we ever can alone.

When an organisation/department creates a ‘circle of safety’, we dramatically increase the energy, trust, happiness, productivity and mutual support for each other. We are more open and hence more creative. We share ideas, and build on others suggestions. We feel valued. When we give out trust and respect to others, we engender it back towards us. When a team feels connected and understood, they will rally round each other, supporting and building the team.  Not only is productivity exponentially enhanced, but loyalty also increases. Thus the primary role of a leader is to create a culture of safety. As the organisation grows, so s/he needs to ensure the circle of safety is maintained.

Co-ompetition – Many misguided leaders believe that creating internal competitive pressure is good for driving performance. It’s the complete opposite.  When we feel threatened, we close down, we do not share, we become defensive and selfish. We create factions and hostilities that drains the energy of the people and ultimately, the organisation. Instead of focusing on the common good, we focus on our personal survival. This ‘infighting’ means we cannot ‘fight’ as effectively against the outside forces — thus we are more likely that the organisation weaker.

Ill-health – Lack of psychological safety leads to high anxiety, triggering major health issues. Ironically, in a world where the average person has more than any of their ancestors, very few people feel fulfilled in their lives. Feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression are epidemic. It is fuelling a growth in self-help and therapies in all shapes and sizes. Partly this is due to the caustic work environments. Organisations are not designed to get the best out of people.

In 2011, a study conducted by Canberra University revealed that that a job we hate can seriously damage our health. Levels of depression and anxiety were greater than those not in work. They traced this stress and anxiety less to the work itself and more to weak management and leadership. Another study by University College London found that those who did not feel recognised for their work suffered higher levels of stress leading to increased heart disease. The reason for this was a lack of control over a large chunk of their lives. An American survey in 2013 concluded that when bosses ignore us, 40% disengage from work. Trouble is, emotions are contagious (misery loves company). When someone starts moaning at work, it soon spreads like wildfire.  

The Whitehall studies were set up to investigate the relationship between stress and the hierarchy in a company. The discovered that stress did not come from the greater seniority you had, but the reverse. Lack of control in their workplace was the primary creator of stress. Higher-up, you are more self-determining. Lower down you are told what to do every minute of the day.  Stressed-out senior executives were living longer as they had much greater autonomy over work. Workers lowest in the hierarchy had a premature death rate four times higher than senior executives. They also saw much higher levels of mental illness.

Home balance – If we have a psychologically healthy home life, it can help balance the deleterious effect of a stressed-out work environment. Sadly, research shows when we have a dysfunctioning work place, we take our stresses home with us (and that starts to poison our home-life).

A study by Boston College found a child’s well-being is less influenced by the long hours the parents worked, and more by the mood the parents were in when they came home.

Change – Sir Isaac Newton’s second law of motion states, f=ma: force = mass times acceleration. To move a large company (mass) requires a huge force. The trouble is, many change programs are often counter productive. They create massive unease and fear, reducing the sense of psychological safety. So rather than helping make people work closer together, it makes people focus on self survival ( and a mass desire to return to the status quo). We need to re-look at the equation f=ma –  Acceleration has been forgotten about. We can shift a large mass either by applying a large force or by doing it slowly. Small changes over a longer period of time will often be more successful as slower change can be more easy absorbed ‘safely’ by the organisation.

The chemicals the drive our emotions and behaviour

Emotions are our primary drivers of behaviour. And our emotions are triggered by chemicals in the body. There are four primary chemicals that control our positive emotions of happiness, pride, connectedness, love etc: Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin (EDSO). Serotonin and Oxytocin help steer us toward making decisions that support the group as opposed to purely selfish acts. Endorphins and Dopamine tend to support more selfish, survival instincts (like food, shelter, warmth etc). Cortisol is the opposite, readying us for attack/defence.

Endorphins – Endorphins are the runners high. They serve to hide pain with pleasure. You can develop a craving for the ‘high’ endorphins deliver after a hard workout. In this sense they are the reward to make us take-on hard challenges.

Dopamine – Dopamine is also a reward for a job well done. It’s that elated sense of pride we have having finished a task. Dopamine is highly addictive and keep us wanting more (especially since its effects do not last long, propelling us to the next ‘high’). Hence the problem with cocaine, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, sex, gambling, shopping etc. — they all cause the release of dopamine. Newness also triggers dopamine (hence our addiction to our mobiles). 

The clearer and more visual the objective/vision, the more dopamine that gets secreted— It’s a mini reward/taster of the future feeling we can look forward to once completed. Then we get slightly more doses of dopamine as we get closer to the end, thus keeping us on track.

Serotonin – Serotonin and Oxytocin grease the social machine. Serotonin is the leadership chemical. It fills us with pride. It makes us feel strong and confident. It’s the feeling we get when others value us and our contribution. 

Oxytocin – Oxytocin is the chemical of love. It’s the feeling we get when in the company of the people we are really close to. It rewards us for being social. It makes us feel accepted. Oxytocin relieves stress, boosts our immune system, increases our interest in work and improves our cognitive skills and creativity. It also increases our libido. 

Oxytocin is contagious. The person who does the act of kindness gets a shot of Oxytocin. The receiver gets a dose — and the people who saw it also get a boost. This helps connect everyone together. 

Cortisol – If Oxytocin helps boost the immune system, Cortisol strangles it. Interestingly Cortisol actually inhibits the secretion of Oxytocin, the chemical that is responsible for empathy.

Cortisol is part of the defence system in our body. When the body detects a perceived danger, Cortisol is activated, which in turn tiggers adrenalin. Between the two of them, they close down all periphery systems (including our immune system) allowing focused activity of flight or fight. This archaic response mechanism was fine when we could meet a sabre-tooth tiger, but not so relevant in the corporate environment. The trouble is, our body cannot detect the difference so over-reacts. If we live in an environment (be it work or home) where there is constant criticism/judging, there is a sense of insecurity (as Google call it, Psychological safety – Ed), then our body moves into a state of ‘high alert’. If we are in this environment day after day, our bodies are in a constant state of cortisol over-dosing. Cortisol plays havoc with our digestive system and blood glucose level. It increases our blood pressure, inflammatory response and also impairs cognitive judgment. Cortisol also increases aggression and suppresses our sexual drive — no wonder so many people are ill at work.

Working together

Collaboration – Most of the great things achieved in life are done by teams of people and rarely by sole individuals working alone. So our true greatness will come from working well with other people rather than from our own brilliance. Yet we are living in a time where we are creating environments that make it harder and harder to co-operate with others. 

We need to move to a place that supports team work. We need to encourage trust and respect in each other. Thus, a supportive and well-managed workplace is better for one’s health. Autonomy and self determination breeds health and happiness (hence why there is greater job satisfaction amongst the self-employed).

People tend not to leave a bad job. A study in 2011 revealed that up to one-third of all people surveyed wanted to leave their jobs but only 1.5% actually did. It’s like many a bad relationship: Even if they don’t like it, they don’t leave.

Tough times – Poverty drives togetherness (wealth drives independence and isolation). Our ancestors learned that in times of adversity, working together helped them not only survive but thrive. We do not face the same dangers as our ancestors. We face different ones. During challenging times, we are more likely to survive if we work together. Ironically adversity often brings the best out in people.

3M’s culture revolves around innovation. 3M achieves this through a culture of  collaboration and sharing — which is rewarded (‘Innovation through interaction’ is one of their mottos, with 80% of its patents having more than one inventor). “At 3M we’re a bunch of ideas, we never throw an idea away because you never know when someone else will need it”.

The increasing destabilisation people are living with these days means there is even greater need for people to create safer, trusting, more supportive and collaborative circles. It’s better for our health (married people live longer than singles as they help support each other). Whenever we feel a real bond of trust and support from other people, it gives us the power to endure.

Collaboration through friendship – Only when we get to meet people properly, listen to what they have to say, try to understand their position, and seek a shared higher objective, can we hope to work better together. 

During the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, Congress mostly functioned well. The Democrats and the Republican’s worked well together behind the scenes to make things happen. Many of the politicians on different sides were personal friends and this helped to allow courteous grown-up conversations to take place. George McGovern (D) would harass Bob Dole (R) during the day, but then be seen drinking with him in the evening. Likewise, Tip O’Neill (D) and Bob Mitchell (R). That was the way business was conducted in those days. In 1994, The Republican Party took control of the house with Newt Gingrich as the speaker. He decided to shake things up. He instituted a policy that Politicians should spend an increasing percentage of their time back in their constituencies. This had unexpected consequences. The politicians spent less time meeting each other outside of work. This broke down the social cohesion that oiled the delicate power balance, resulting in conflict and a slowing-down of passing bills. People lost sight of the bigger benefits to society and instead got dragged back down into petty party politics. In January 2013, a public survey revealed an approval rating for congress of just 14% — below even second-hand car salesmen.

Esprit de corps – When asked, ‘What was one of your best days at work?’, it’s rarely the work itself. More often, it’s the camaraderie within group that is most fondly recalled. It can often be when a project has gone wrong. Our best days are when we helped each other overcome hardships. Working late, all pulling together — floods our body with oxytocin — rewarding us for collaborating.

Connecting emotionally – Emotional connection is critical. Not just positive emotions as demonstrated above but also negative ones. When people have been through a highly emotional event together (be it a new business pitch, a crisis, a project rushed through etc), it really helps bring people together. Likewise physical closeness breeds community (it’s more difficult if the team are spread around the world or in different buildings or on different floors). Furthermore, the frequency of meeting each other is also key to cementing that community.

Trends that caused the lack of psychological safety

1) The ‘me’ generation – After the second world war, optimism, and wealth dramatically increased.  People who delayed having children, could start laying down roots for their future generations. All told, 76 million people were born — a rise of 40% (this population bulge got nicknamed the ‘pig in a python’ as it moved along the snake as they aged). This generation were born into a time of growth and prosperity. Their parents often given them the things they never had. Thus unconsciously these parents bred a generation of ‘takers’ not ‘givers’. The baby boomers were given so much stuff they got addicted to the dopamine hit. Abundance breeds selfishness and laziness. The more we have the more we want, and the more we expect (ironically, the more we have the less we value it). Thus when the baby boomers came into ‘power’, they set-up systems and borders to protect what they had.

2) When firing became the norm – On August 5th, 1981, President Reagan ordered the firing of 11,359 air traffic controllers in a dispute over pay and conditions. This seismic action defined a new standard of behaviour: it was okay to get rid of people. After that, the practice of laying-off staff became accepted policy to manage profit. Careers were ended to make the finances work. The unwritten contract between employee and owner was being ripped up. Trust was shredded. 

Jack Welch, CEO of GE would fire the bottom 10% of his Managers who were not contributing to brand share growth, gaining him the nickname, ‘Neutron Jack’. With such high profile actions, such behaviour soon spread. People were seen as a commodity, less an asset. On the surface, his strategy appears successful (GE sales rose from $26.8b to $130b), but digging deeper, we see the increase was in-line with overall stock market growth (A rising tide lifts all ships). Welch later-on called the single number focus on shareholder wealth “The dumbest idea in the world”.

3) The shift to profit as the most important factor – Milton Friedman, the highly influential economist, said there was only one responsibility for a company — and that was to increase profit (within the rules).  So we saw a shift from organisations as social institutions to becoming purely focused on financial gain.  

Meckling and Jensen, two academics, wrote a paper in 1976 about shareholder value. This also contributed to the shift towards senior executives’ bonuses being directly linked to share price. What you reward is what you get. 

With the financial markets now demanding quarterly reporting of increased profits, the pressure is constantly growing on business leaders to drive these profits at almost any cost. We are losing the social ethics and morals of businesses. We are increasingly seeing companies exploring tax loop holes and ‘bending the rules’ (with supposed head offices in Ireland , etc.). Enron imploded over serious fraudulent activities. BP caused the deaths and contamination of a whole ecosystem because it put profit above safety.

20 April 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 people and causing five million drums of crude oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico. By 2005, the Deep Water Horizon oil rig was $58m over budget and was costing an extra $1m a day. During three years prior, BP had racked up 760 safety violations. Profit trumped safety. The reality was this was short-term thinking. In the end, the disaster cost BP $24.4bn in fines and costs (let alone share price dropping from $59.88 in March 2010 to $40 in Feb 2013 – $39.59 in Dec 2018).

Strategies to rectify

So how does a leader go about rectifying the situation? Sinek proposed five strategies:

  1. Bring people together
  2. Keep it manageable — obey Dunbar’s number
  3. Meet the people you help
  4. Give people time, not just money
  5. Be patient — the rule of seven days and seven years

Rule 1: Bring people together – As great as the internet is to help connect communities, it cannot create deep trusting relationships.  You can’t build meaningful business relationship either over Skype calls. There is no such thing as ‘virtual’ trust. This has to be done face-to-face. There is a magic that happens when we listen, talk, touch a person for real.

We can say the cruellest things to people when distanced from us — things you would never say to a person face-to-face For example, 25% of all American teenagers claim to have experienced cyber bullying.

Rule 2: Keep it manageable — Obey Dunbar’s number of 150 – The number comes from research conducted by the British Psychologist, Robin Dunbar. Communities start to fall apart above 150 people. The earliest tribes of Homo sapiens maxed out at around 150 — the same with the Bushmen of Africa. The Marines keep their companies below 150. Above that, it’s impossible to know everyone. Communication is easier and quicker when the numbers are kept lower. This ‘knowing’ each other is the glue that creates a community. When we ‘know’ who is in the community, we build trust with each other as well as a deep sense of identity. And this identification breeds self-protection of that community. We look after our own. The more we know each other the greater the ties of trust and loyalty. 

Thus, it’s key for any leader to create a real sense of identity for people to coalesce around and see themselves as ‘one’. Socials, Management walkabouts and engaging with people outside of meetings all play a critical role in helping to knit a community together. If we don’t do this, people will splinter off and will not feel connected (that’s why working remotely/from home causes some problems). 

Gore Tex will build another factory rather than let staff exceed 150

Rule 3: Meet the people you help – Only when you really meet your customers face-to-face, does the impact of the work your organisation does really sink-in. This is significantly more powerful than any powerpoint presentation full of facts and figures about them.

Wells Fargo invited in real customers to explain what difference their loan had made to their lives. It had a profound impact on their staff. Their perspective changed from ‘hitting the numbers of loans’ to ‘helping people in their lives’. This in turn impacted the quality of interaction with their customers.

In one experiment, simply showing the photograph of the patient to the Radiographer significantly improved their diagnostic accuracy.

Rule 4: Give them time, not just money – The trouble with money is it’s relative. $100 to one person is a lot. To another it’s nothing. But time is finite. Giving away some of your time is so much more valuable than giving money. We judge a boss (or any person) by the quality and quantity of time they give to us. Undivided real attention suggests you really care. It acknowledges and validates them.

Rule 5: Be patient – We live in a dopamine fuelled, speed obsessed world of ‘Now’. However, building trust takes time. Most great things can’t be rushed.

Critique

The book makes compelling reading but I’m left with the question, ’Is it an impossible quest that everyone will find happiness in their jobs?’

The book has a tendency to overdo the negativity of the future scenarios. Read this book and you think the world has gone to wrack and ruin. It’s easy to cite individual instances of where profit focus has caused major problems. But of course there will be equally as many great examples of organisations who also pray at the altar of shareholder value and still do great things and are wonderful places to work (are these not some of the key principles/benefits of Capitalism)?

The book is repetitive, and meanders into other areas (such as societal issues). Frankly the book should stick to its core thesis around organisations. It’s caught in the classic malaise of having a key hypothesis (that could be summarised in 20 pages that’s gets dragged out to fill over 220 pages — because that’s the accepted minimum length of business books).

Finally, the fault of all these books is they try to simplify management/leadership down to one key precept. Which we all know is nonsense!

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About slooowdown

Consultant in the fields of Relationships and Change
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