The leader who had no title

Review by Michael Ray Hopkin

“We all need to lead where we are planted and shine where we now find ourselves.” According to Robin Sharma, the author of The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life, anyone can be a leader. Too many people go to work with the mindset that to be a leader they need to work their way up the company ladder, get the title or position they seek, and then they can be leaders. This is the wrong approach according to Sharma.

The book is written in a business fable style. The story is good and somewhat engaging. The leadership principles that surface in the story make the book worth reading. The foundation principle is self-leadership. Anyone who understands this can lead regardless of his or her official title in an organization. According to Sharma, “leaders are those individuals who do the things that failures aren’t willing to do–even though they might not like doing them either.” Too many people pay the sad costs of mediocrity and forego the spectacular rewards of being a leader.

In the story, the main character (Blake) has conversations with four unorthodox leaders. Each of these individuals works in a position that — based on conventional wisdom — would not be considered a leadership position. Each conversation brings out key principles that can help “ordinary” people become true leaders:

  • You need no title to be a leader: Success (business and personal) is something that’s consciously created. To lead without a title “you will have to be unrealistically persistent and wildly courageous.”
  • Turbulent times build great leaders: Challenging times in both business and life give us great opportunities to learn and transform ourselves. “Problems and difficult days are actually good for you.”
  • The deeper your relationships, the stronger your leadership: “Leave every single person who intersects your path better, happier, and more engaged than you found them.” Time spent forming deep relationships–in all aspects of life–will pay dividends down the road.
  • To be a great leader, first become a great person: Training and strengthening your inner leader will help you perform at extraordinary levels. The key is learning to lead yourself. In our world we define success by the things we have, not by the people we’ve become. The more self-awareness we develop the more likely we are to grow and help others.
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