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Eating Last: Simon Sinek Talks Leadership and Sacrifice at DIA

By DIA Public Affairs

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Feb. 26, 2014 — “Leadership is a choice,” declared author Simon Sinek at the Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters Feb. 24. Leaders “look after the people next to them,” he said in his talk about leadership, human relationships and group dynamics. As part of the agency’s Distinguished Speaker Series, Sinek was invited to speak to the DIA workforce about leadership and how it relates to everyday struggles. The author of “It Starts with Why,” Sinek is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation. He was invited to speak to the DIA workforce to reinvigorate the agency’s conversation about leadership and how it relates to everyday struggles.

DIA Deputy Director David Shedd introduced Sinek to the workforce saying in every conversation they have had, the author has always told him to “be inspired,” a remark which Sinek lived up to by inspiring the DIA workforce to accept the challenge of leadership. Sinek sought to explain why “Leaders Eat Last,” which is also the title of his latest book.

Sinek asked, “How do you create an environment in which someone has the absolute confidence that somebody else ... would risk their life for them, which then gives them the courage to do remarkable things or even do the same in return?"

His argument is that it’s not about the people, it’s about the environment. Great environments create great organizations, “When we feel safe amongst our own we will naturally cooperate to face the dangers and seize the opportunities. … In great organizations we look out for each other.”

Going further, Sinek said that leadership is what creates great environments, but it’s not those who outrank us who need to be the leaders. “Leadership has nothing to do with rank. Leadership is a choice … a choice, to look after the person to the left of you and look after to the person to the right of you,” Sinek said. “If you commit every single day to helping them succeed, you become a leader.”

According to Sinek, this is what creates great organizations and how they can succeed no matter what challenges they face. Leaving DIA with a final thought, Sinek said “When we ensure that we would sacrifice for our people, they will sacrifice for us.”