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AWARE Ink Newsletter

November Leadership Library Feature

Each month AWARE’s leadership team comes together in person to collaborate and coordinate across service lines, connect and learn from one another and model an effective organizational culture. During each meeting, the team sets aside time to explore ideas from thought leaders across varying industries within the context of our own programs and services. They have embraced the concept “leaders are readers” and are enthusiastic about continuous learning, growth and development. 

Last month, we gave you some insight on managing stress and anxiety in Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. This month, we’ll cover Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.

In Leaders Eat Last, Simon explains where the title comes from. It’s based on Marine Corps Officers who are taught to sacrifice their own needs for the people in their care. He says they often eat last after everyone on the team has had a chance to sit down first. This concept builds trust among the team. It creates a circle of safety, shows the team empathy – that you care about them, and helps everyone focus on doing great work by eliminating unnecessary worries and distractions.

The book opens with a story about Captain Mike Drowley who was known for his empathetic style of leadership and even risked his own life during a dangerous mission to protect his team. Simon Sinek describes this as creating a Circle of Safety. In this extreme instance, the leader, Captain Mike, protected his people from outside dangers. Sinek explains that we can act similarly as leaders within our own organizations by protecting the team from outside dangers like stress, anxiety, and other toxic environments.

Sinek also says that once a Circle of Safety has been created, the team is more likely to build trust with one another. They can fully commit themselves to the mission because they don’t need to worry about external influences. People who feel safe and trusted at work also tend to stay with their company longer and overall retention rates improve significantly.

Another topic that Sinek discusses in his book is putting yourself in another’s shoes. It’s a good reminder that while we may make decisions for many, the group is still made up of individual people. We need to take time to connect with one another at that one-on-one level as much as possible in order to make the best decisions for the group.

After reading Leaders Eat Last, AWARE’s Leadership Team was able to draw many parallels between Simon’s lessons, our teams, and the way we serve the people in our care. The team recognized that building safe environments around teams is crucial and that one-on-one relationships are vital for success. The Leadership Team could also relate to other recent books though and the competing needs for self-care. Overall, it really just comes down to taking care of one another as best as we can while helping people live independent lives!

Have you read any great leadership books? We’d love to know what you’re reading! Let us know by sending an email to

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