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SMA Dailey's Book Club

Picture of books in SMA Dailey's book club.

The Book Club is designed to provide junior leaders guided opportunities to engage with their Soldiers on Army Profession concepts by discussing literature featuring subject matter across many genres. For that reason, it falls in the Not in My Squad toolbox. The SMA will schedule book club discussions into his troop visits, allowing for a common conversation about leadership and the Army Profession among the enlisted force.


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Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.

Discussion Period: July-December 2016

Ender's Game Discussion Guide
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Leaders Eat Last

Simon Sinek

Why do only a few people get to say “I love my job”? It seems unfair that finding fulfillment at work is like winning a lottery; that only a few lucky ones get to feel valued by their organizations, to feel like they belong.

Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled.

This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders are creating environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his travels around the world since the publication of his bestseller Start with Why, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams were able to trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives were offered, were doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general.

“Officers eat last,” he said.

Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: great leaders sacrifice their own comfort—even their own survival—for the good of those in their care.

This principle has been true since the earliest tribes of hunters and gatherers. It’s not a management theory; it’s biology. Our brains and bodies evolved to help us find food, shelter, mates and especially safety. We’ve always lived in a dangerous world, facing predators and enemies at every turn. We thrived only when we felt safe among our group.

Our biology hasn’t changed in fifty thousand years, but our environment certainly has. Today’s workplaces tend to be full of cynicism, paranoia and self-interest. But the best organizations foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a Circle of Safety that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

The Circle of Safety leads to stable, adaptive, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong and all energies are devoted to facing the common enemy and seizing big opportunities.

As he did in Start with Why, Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories from a wide range of examples, from the military to manufacturing, from government to investment banking.

The biology is clear: when it matters most, leaders who are willing to eat last are rewarded with deeply loyal colleagues who will stop at nothing to advance their leader’s vision and their organization’s interests. It’s amazing how well it works.

Current Book

Leaders Eat Last Discussion Guide
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Start With Why

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is leading a movement to build a world in which the vast majority of us are inspired by the work we do. Millions have already seen his video on TED.com about the importance of knowing why we do what we do. Start with Why takes the concept even deeper.

Any person or organization can explain what they do; some can explain how they are different or better; but very few can clearly articulate why. WHY is not about money or profit – those are results. WHY is the thing that inspires us and inspires those around us.

From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Steve Jobs to the Wright Brothers, Start with Why shows that the leaders who inspire all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way – and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired – and it all starts with WHY.

Discussion Period: TBD

Discussion Guide Coming Soon