You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader: June 2015 Book Review

You Don't Need A Title To Be A Leader
You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader

Title: You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader
Author: Mark Sanborn
Year: 2006 Book Club Review: May 2015

Mr. Sanborn takes a great principle and provides a number of real work, digestible examples for implementing this principle in one’s daily life. Through the wonder of the Internet meme, we’ve all become accustomed to the difference between management and leadership.

Mr. Sanborn’s book provides a much more tangible approach than those inspirational images and is intended for those who desire to truly become leaders, but may lack an official leadership title. An underlying concept of the book is that individuals aren’t born as leaders, but rather LEARN how to lead. The following is offered as the real test of leadership:

“If you had no title or ability to reward or penalize others, could you still get them to follow you?”

This test strips away the often perceived perks of leadership and gets to the internal motivators of individuals who simply want to influence others in a positive manner. A truly powerful concept fit for the title of the book. With such a definition, those without the title and without the ability to reward or penalize others can truly be seen as leaders.

Project managers are routinely cast into roles where they must influence others without having direct, if any, authority. Thus, the choice of “You Don’t Need A Title to Be A Leader” as the first Book Club title is apropos.

Mr. Sanborn puts forth six principles for leaders to follow.

  1. The Power of Self-Mastery
  2. The Power of Focus
  3. Power with People
  4. The Power of Persuasive Communication
  5. The Power of Execution
  6. The Power of Giving

Each principle is broken down in elemental fashion with guidance for how each can be applied in one’s personal life and professional career. A truly great read for those desiring to have a positive influence on others, but lacking an official leadership title.

Group discussion questions:

  • What have you found to be an effective way to have a positive influence on others when you haven’t had direct authority over them?
  • What does it say about a project manager and their skill when they are able to function as a leader rather than as a manager?
  • Which of the six principles speak to you the most?
  • Describe a situation in which you’ve witnessed someone who didn’t have a leadership title on a project exhibit true leadership.

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