Simon Sinek, ethnographer and leadership expert, explains the function of a leader in a group, taking us back to the beginnings of our existence. He believes that the driving force, for most of our actions throughout the day, comes from the release of the 4 “happy” hormones – endorphin, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and the “stress” hormone – cortisol. These hormones produce the feelings of happiness, joy, love, contentment, pride, accomplishment etc. Simon calls the dopamine and oxytocin, “the selfish hormones” because they can be induced by solely actions like running or achieving goals. However, through our existence, it has been concluded that we are social animals, and we need the recognition from others. Also, in order to survive we need to stay in a group. As per every naturally formed group, there is an alpha person, chosen to be a leader of that group.
1. What is takes to be recognized as a leader?
In his presentation “Why Leaders Eat Last”, Simon tells a story, about a solider that risked his life, in order to save the lives of 22 American soldiers, trapped under an enemy gun fire. When asked, why he risked his life, he gave the most common answer by people in his position – “Because they would have done it for me”. Not everyone is a born leader. The strive for these chemicals and their reactions in our bodies distinguish the leader from the others.
2. What is the difference between figure of authority and leadership?
Inside our work organization the dangers we face, like competition, are variables dependent of our leader’s decisions. Based on their “protection provided” we know how safe we feel at work. Back to the cave times, the responsibilities of one leader were to decide who would become member of the group and how big the group would be. In these communities of around 150 people, if someone brought food, the strongest would rush their way to the food and pick the best parts of it, the rest would be left for “the artistic ones”, jokes Simon.
However they needed to develop a system built on trust, to maintain the integrity of the group.
You might be an authority, but you won’t be a leader. The anthropological definition of a leader is – “to put yourself in risk to look out for others”. And if you don’t, you’ve failed as a leader.
People don’t mind, leaders getting better salaries than them, not because they are naive, but quite the opposite. Since cave times, people would “invest in their leader” providing them with the best of the best, so they could build their comfort zone and knowledge that if an danger was about to happen, they will be protected.
You can watch the video below, for more valuable information on leadership and why this 4 chemicals in our body are so important.