Leaders Eat Last or Take Care of Your People and They’ll Take Care of You

Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last

I have not had the opportunity to read Simon Sinek’s new book, Leaders Eat Last and this isn’t about the book. It is, however, a discussion of the next principle of leadership I mentioned in my last post.

Take care of your people.

If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of you.

I learned about this principle as a young private in the Army. My platoon was on an exercise in the Georgia backwoods. We’d parachuted into a drop zone, gathered our equipment then moved out to a location we occupied for 24 hours.

During that time we went a full day without food. Somehow my comrades elected me to find our non-commissioned officers and find out where our C rations might be.

Imagine my young, impressionable mind trying to understand what I came across. Here were all our sergeants sitting around a fire eating rations, drinking coffee, smoking and joking.

These men who were responsible for the health and welfare of their subordinates had obtained cases of C rations, rifled through them for the best meals then sat eating them while we went hungry.

I swore to myself there and then if I ever was in a position of leadership, I’d always eat after my men.

You can also imagine how my platoon mates took the news when I arrived with the much-needed chow. Needless to say our respect for these so-called leaders was completely lost.

Any person in a position of responsibility has just that, a responsibility to his or her subordinates. Whether in the military or in business we MUST take care of our people.

How hard can it be you should ask? Train your people so they understand what is expected of them. Pay them a meaningful wage. Guide them, advise them and council them on their path ahead.

How much better do you feel when someone who you’re responsible to treats you as a human being? Remember the golden rule, “Treat others as you would want to be treated.”

When I was placed in a leadership position I took it upon myself to get to know my people. Who are they? What are their aspirations? What are their goals? What can I do to help them reach their goals?

The payoff has been people loyal to me and to my cause. I had subordinates willing to follow me in good times AND tough times. Absolutely necessary in military situation—just as necessary in a non-military situation.

In business I work with my employees and contractors to help them achieve their goals. By achieving those goals I achieved my goals. A win-win situation to say the least.

While I haven’t read Sinek’s book, I’d certainly suggest you do if you want more information on how to take care of your people so they’ll take care of you. A good friend of mine HAS read the book and considers it the best book on leadership he’s ever read. It’s definitely on my “to read” list.

Here’s to your success!


Keith is the resident writer and troublemaker at Empowered Pros.
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