Leaders Without a Title


Leaders Without a Title

January 31, 2022

Are you a Leader? Do you see yourself as a Leader? 

In my career in corporate America, we only sent "managers" to leadership development courses? If we truly believed everyone could be and was a leader -- we would have sent everyone to a leadership development experience!  Think about it. 

I have come to deeply believe we are all leaders and teachers with gifts to offer. Whether we are in school, in a career, in between jobs, a retiree, working at home raising children, a child, a rising star, CEO, a disgruntled minimum wage part-time employee, an Executive Director in a nonprofit, a skilled trades person, an entrepreneur, a writer, an artist, a dancer.... you name it -- we are all role models, teachers and leaders in our own circle of influence. 

In this Blog, I would like to introduce you to Blake, the hero in Robin Sharma's novel, The Leader Who Had No Title. Blake Davis was a 29-year old complacent worker with a negative attitude working at a Greenwich Village book store. Blake was born and raised in the Midwest, a reasonable student who became came a drifter after his parents were killed, then enlisted in the Army, only to come home and still find himself stuck and lost.   

Robin Sharma's note in the introduction is instructive: 

"Please note: the leadership method I'm about to share is delivered to you as a story. The hero, Blake Davis: his unforgettable mentor, Tommy Flinn; and the four extraordinary teachers who transform the way he works and lives are all fictional characters. -- products of my overly active imagination. But trust that the leadership system itself, as well as the principles, tools, and tactics that's it's built upon, are very real and have helped hundreds of thousands of people in many of the most successful organizations in the world win in business and lead the field."

The Leadership System Robin Sharma lays out is organized around 4 Leadership Conversations and each conclude with 5 rules and a call to action.  Thus, this book  on leadership is much more than an engaging story. The Four Leadership Conversations and the accompanying rules are a system designed to motivate and encourage you to take action and lead.  

The focus of this Blog, Leaders Without a Title, is to share the 4 Leadership Conversations, in order to stimulate a robust conversation on the philosophy, values, and styles of leaders. I would also recommend you consider buying or listening to the audio book to learn more about the 5 rules revealed in each chapter.

I believe we learn best from stories. In this story we can each find a piece of ourselves, in any one or all of the characters, or reflect on leaders we have known and respected, or think about the lessons we are learning and teaching to ourselves and to others.  

The First Leadership Conversation: You Need No Title to Be a Leader

After Tommy Flinn engages Blake Davis in Bright Minds Books Inc, in Greenwich Village, NYC,  he agrees to introduce Blake to 4 brilliant teachers.  First, Tommy introduces Blake to Anna, originally from Argentina, now a housekeeper at one of the finest hotels in New York City. As they exchange some pleasantries and background, Anna says:

"Every morning and every afternoon, I clean rooms like I can only imagine Picasso painted. I feel as if these rooms are like the rooms in my very own house. And the guests that visit here at this hotel are, to me, like guests in my very own home. I see myself as an artist, of sorts, and each day I am fortunate enough to be able to express my highest form of creativity on a canvas others call work."

Anna moves deeper into the discussion of titles and power and observes: 

"The influence that comes with having a title can be fleeting at best -- especially in these turbulent economic conditions. There's a much deeper power than titled power, Blake. An that's the natural leadership power that lives within each of us by the simple fact we are human beings. Sadly, that potential is dormant and little used in the vast majority of us. But it is there -- available to anyone who wants to search it out and then activate it. Actually, this is power in its most real form."

Anna then reaches into her apron pocket and gives Blake a napkin with red writing all over it, outlining "The 4 Natural Powers."

"Natural Power #1. Every one of us alive in this moment has the power to go to work each day and express the Absolute Best within us. And you need no title to do that."

"Natural Power # 2. Every one of us alive today has the power to inspire, influence, and elevate each person we meet by the gift of a great example. And you need no title to do that." 

Anna is living both of these Powers.

Be that leader today -- be your Absolute Best, be a Role Model to inspire and elevate others! The remaining 2 powers have to do with being passionate and positive and treating others with respect, appreciation, and kindness.

These are behaviors we can and do control. And you need no title to do that!

The Second Leadership Conversation: Turbulent Times Build Great Leaders

Next Tommy introduces Blake to Ty, a 5-time world slalom skiing champion. Here are a few of Ty's pearls of wisdom, based on his attitude and experience:

  • "The fear you move through when you are at the edge of your limits actually causes your limits to expand." 
  • "What you resist will persist, but what you befriend you begin to transcend, Blake. Look, when the terrain changes on a ski slope, your technique needs to change with it. You need to adapt. Otherwise you'll fall and get hurt." 
  • "I learned early on that the only way I'd get good at skiing super-hard terrain was to ski super-hard terrain regularly."
  • "The more time you spend outside your comfort zone, the wider it grows." And that means the more you stretch, the more things that once scared you now feel normal." 
  • "Leading Without a Title has so much to do with being a light in a dark and turbulent world. Everything is so negative during these times of high-velocity transition. Everyone's so worried. Everyone's walking around in a state of real fear with no idea what the future will bring. What we need in business right now are more people who are truly bright lights. Who show a clear and hopeful way. Who are real sparks in all that they do." 

Sound familiar after a year of living with a global pandemic and stress epidemic? Robin's book was published in 2010! 

Be that leader today -- move through your fears, adapt and change, and be a beacon of light and hope demonstrating, Role Modeling, a way forward.

These are behaviors we can and do control. And you need no title to do that!  

The Third Leadership Conversation: The Deeper Your Relationships, the Stronger Your Leadership

And now in The Leader Who Had No Title our hero, Blake, is introduced by his mentor, Tommy, to a 3rd unforgettable teacher, Jackson, a former CEO, now hanging out and creating a garden on the top of the New York Public Library.

A few of Jackson's teachings are:

  • "The main business of business is to connect with -- and add value to -- people. 
  • "If you want to win, you need to help others win. And part of that is doing all you can do to build a high-performance culture within your organization.... And so part of your job now becomes unleashing the greatness in people who've never seen the greatness within themselves."
  • "Leading by example is one of the most powerful tools for positively influencing change in other people."
  • "But I never lost sight of the fact the humblest is the greatest. 'Only the humble improve,' said jazz great Wynton Marsalis." 
  • "The larger the dream, the more important the team. It reminds me what the mathematician Isaac Newton once said: 'If I have seen more than others, it's because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.'"
  • "What I am really trying to suggest is that being great in business is all about a glorious focus on people. Believing in them. Engaging them. Bonding with them. Serving them and celebrating them. If you're really serious about winning in business, become a walking, talking, living, breathing hub radiating positive energy, excellence, and kindness to every person you are fortunate enough to help."  

Be that leader today -- be all about bringing out the best in others, bonding with them, serving them, celebrating them, radiating positive energy and kindness to lift every one up. 

These are behaviors we can and do control. And you need no title to do that!

The Fourth Leadership Conversation: To Be a Great Leader, First Become a Great Person

The 4th unforgettable teacher is Jet, a Certified Massage Therapist, practicing out of a basement office in the Meatpacking District. There is a 30-minute wait because Jet is booked. 

Jet's advice is simple and direct: "Greatness on the outside begins within. You can't unleash peak performance at work until you feel like performing at your peak. You can't show world-class toughness against the competition if you don't have mental toughness within yourself. … This final lesson is all about personal leadership. "Lead yourself first. Only then will you get to a place as a person where you can lead other people." 

Jet is the perfect teacher to take Blake through basic training, the 7 best practices of personal leadership: learning; affirmations; visualization; journaling; goal setting; exercise; and nutrition.

Now this 4th leadership conversation does even deeper -- to talk about integrity, purpose, service and contribution-- about life and death.

"Success is not about what you receive, Blake. Success is all about what your return. Like I said, even the longest life is a pretty short journey in the overall scheme of existence and all that is. Tolstoy wrote a wonderful short story called 'How Much Land Does a Man Need?' The moral of the story was that at the end, all the things we spend the best days of our life chasing really don't matter that much. All that we really need once our lives get to the end doesn't amount to much more than about six feet of soil. What truly counts then is what we will leave behind. What I'm encouraging you to think about is your legacy. I'm inviting you to consider how you want to be remembered when you are no longer here. 'The great and glorious legacy of a human being is to live with purpose,' observed the the philosopher Montaigne. It will be a deep loss to the world if you refuse to accept the call on your life to Lead Without a Title and present your absolute best to the lives around you. Leaders Without a Title think about their legacies every single day. ….They consider what kind of people they must become so that their lives stand for something excellent, meaningful, and powerful."

I love the  line, "Leaders Without a Title think about their legacies every single day." They are not thinking about themselves, they are not thinking from their egoic self; rather they are thinking about service to others.  

Be that Leader today, being authentic and mastering your Inner Empire, and standing for excellence and service to others. 

These are behaviors we can and do control. And you need no title to do that! 

I hope this short review gives you a flavor for the fun and the teachings and the brilliant simplicity of the 4 Leadership Conversations.  Robin Sharma's book is available on Amazon: The Leader Who Had No Title. Buy it; share it; gift it. 

NEW: Certified High Performance CoachingTM Leadership Course

In many ways, The Leader Who Had No Title, is a fun way to warm up your thinking about leadership. The leadership philosophy and lessons are congruent with the Leadership course I offer. 

Last year as I continued and renewed my Certified High Performance CoachingTM practice training with Brendon Burchard in The High Performance Institute, I added a new course, Leadership, to my offering to clients. 

In the Leadership Course – 12 lessons in total -- you learn the major practices of leadership that we must enact on a continual basis to be able to have the amount of influence and impact we desire in our work lives or in any role in which we are leading other people. The E6 Leadership Framework focuses on the following practices which are important to continually level up over the long term: Envision; Enlist; Embody; Empower; Evaluate; Encourage. 

The content and tools are based on the proprietary concepts from High Performance Institute’s Certified High Performance Coach Program™. Our approach, as with all our programs, is to focus on the future and challenge ourselves – it is always about questions, outcomes, follow-up and how you can feel more engaged, joyous, and confident in taking your leadership practices for yourself and your team to the next level.

All the Certified High Performance CoachingTM programs create an experiential learning opportunity because it is YOU who come up with the answers that work for you. The framework is challenging -- it asks questions which you may not have asked yourself in the past. In this course, for example we start with asking you to reflect on your Role Models for Leaders. Also, what is your philosophy of Leadership? What are the values that shape and drive your Leadership? What is your personal Leadership Style? 

The High Performance Institute defines leadership as "the process of leaders and collaborators coming together through an influence relationship and seeking changes that reflect their mutual purposes." In this definition and over the 12-week course, relationships and influence are at the core of the lessons. The practices -- envisioning, enlisting, embodying, empowering, evaluating and encouraging -- are for you to define and apply to your specific circumstance and then act on in your leadership role. 

If you have an interest in my Leadership Course, let's connect and explore the opportunities!


Inspiring Leadership Quotes

As I am fond of saying, we are all saying the same thing … in our unique way, in our own voice. Louise Hay taught me this many years ago. 

So, let's close with my selection of pithy quotes on leadership which reinforce many of the key lessons. 

  1. "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing." -- Peter F. Drucker
  2. "Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position." -- Brian Tracy
  3. "Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another."  -- John C. Maxwell
  4. "All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
  5. "The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." -- Ronald Reagan
  6. "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery. 
  7. "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader." -- John Quincy Adams 
  8. "You manage things; you lead people." -- Grace Murray Hopper
  9. "Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people that they lead." -- Pete Hoekstra
  10. "There go my people, I must hurry to catch up with them for I am their leader." Mahatma Gandhi
  11. "The supreme quality of leadership is integrity." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

I would love to learn your favorite leadership quotes! 


Till next time, with hope and love,    

May you be happy now and always







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