Book Review- The Leader Who Had No Title

When you hear the words job, career, work and profession, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Do you think of money, bills, living and expenses? That’s definitely part of the answer! But, can you think of joy, gratitude and fulfillment? Like most of us, most probably you might think of your job in this very comprehensive picture, yet you may have lost sight by the time or even worse, you have not thought about it in this way at all!

leaderThis book, The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma, is one of the best therapies that I’ve ever found in this area.

Robin Sharma introduced a new philosophy called LWT (Lead without a Title) that helps you to recharge and start thinking about your job in a different way. And no, it’s not only dedicated to those who have the title ‘Leader’ or ‘Manager’ on their business cards! According to Sharma, everyone can lead. Whether you are in a corporate, a not-for-profit organization or self-employed, leadership is the must-have skill for everyone in any business environment.

LWT: Lead without a Title

So what does this philosophy really mean? In this fable, Sharma defined LWT as a transformational philosophy for work and life that anyone, of any age, from any place in any country in the world right now can apply to unleash their inner leader and experience awesome results within minutes…. Anyone anywhere in the world can step up to the plate and take responsibility to drive change, push excellence and show leadership.

If you are still in doubt or wondering how can a job be a source of joy and fulfillment, and more than just a salary slip, check this beautiful quote:

“Here’s the thing: why would I leave a job I love so much? I’m having the time of my life! And doing work I cherish is one of the ways I stay young at heart. I get to be creative here and stretch my thinking by solving problems. I have the chance to make new friends by being astonishingly good with our customers every single day. And I have the opportunity to inspire the teammates we work with here by the positive example I’ve chosen to set. And I feel so happy because doing great work is one the single best practice to grow full of deep joy. All of this given my life a rich sense of purpose”.

In this case, work is not only that source of joy and fulfillment, it’s a way to get in touch with your leadership skills and enrich them. Sharma illustrated how “work offers you a daily platform to discover the leader within. It’s a chance, everyday, to reclaim more of the potential you’re buried and to awaken the dormant relationship between the current you and your absolute best. It’s an opportunity to express more of your latent creativity and a whole lot more of your precious humanity”.

Sharma emphasized in this book that leadership is not about your job title. He pointed out that many employees think they will take charge, develop and/ or adapt this leadership mentality when they get a bigger title. Here is why you should do your best anyway, regardless of your current title:

“So many people go to work with the mind-set that when they get a bigger title and when they are granted more responsibility, then they will perform mastery and go the extra mile in everything they do. But restaurant is the only place I know of where you get the good stuff first and then you pay the price. In work- and in life in general- you need to pay the price of success before you get all the rewards due to you. And by the way, just because you haven’t yet received the benefits of positive deeds you may have done, that doesn’t mean they’re not coming. You’ll always reap what you sow. The chickens will always come home to roost. You’ll always get what you deserve. Even the smallest good act has set in motion a good consequence. And by the way, if you study any good person in business- and I mean the best of the best- or any great explorer or artist or scientist, not one of them achieved what they did for the money”.

 The LWT philosophy

Sharma illustrated the LWT philosophy under four pillars; each one can be achieved by five principles as the following:

  • You Need No Title to Be a Leader which can be achieved by IMAGE (Innovate, Mastery, Authenticity, Guts and Ethics).
  • Turbulent Times Build Great Leaders which can be achieved by SPARK (Speak with candor, Prioritize, Adversity breeds opportunity, Respond versus react and Kudos for everyone).
  • The Deeper Your Relationships, the Stronger Your Leadership which can be achieved d by HUMAN (Helpfulness, Understanding, Mingle, Amuse and Nurture).
  • To Be a Great Leader, First Become a Great Person which can be achieved by SHINE (See clearly, Health is wealth, Inspiration matters, Neglect not your family and Elevate your lifestyle).

 SEW: Seriously Exceptional Work

Sharma discussed different examples for genius leaders who weren’t driven by money. Roosevelt, Mandela, Edison and Einstein to name some of them. Instead, they were driven by the challenge and the need to create great results. Sharma called this attitude as SEW (Seriously Exceptional Work). He described as “[Do] nothing less than your very best … and why you need to do that consistently? Because success is created through the performance of a few small daily disciplines that stack up over time to produce achievements far beyond anything you could have even planned for”.

 A great way to visualize what does that mean is to remember the famous quote “be so good so they can’t ignore you” or by using Sharma’s words “each one of us can make the decision to love the work we do and perform it so well that people can’t take their eyes off us”.

SEW means commit yourself to:

  • Continuously ask what I can improve today, and
  • Consistently making everything a whole lot better than you found it.

And this leads to nothing but to “commitment to over delivering”.

Another good acronym Sharma used to illustrate the excellence concept is FMOB which mean be the First, the Most, the Only and the Best version of you. He said “the starting point of moving to mastery is to raise the expectations you set for yourself. Just make the commitment to be the first, the most, the only and the absolute best. Expect more from yourself than anyone around you could ever expect from you. Play in the big leagues, Blake! Just fly up into the thin space of rare air”.

 When trying to be FMOB, it’s important to define what does your BIW (Best in World) mean? Every one of us can find a role model, an example, a real inspiration for “what would the person who is the best in the world at what I do be doing in this very moment?” then once you get the answer, “immediately refocus myself and get down to the business of doing only that which will create the largest results and the biggest impact”.

Why should you bother yourself to be a master in what you do? Interestingly, Sharma clarified how “it’s easier to work at mastery than at ordinary… there is a lot less competition on the extra mile because so few people even believe they can play there- many fewer commit to spending their careers there”.

 Final thoughts

What Sharma discussed in this book is not a one-time attitude. It’s a continuous discipline. A good way to end this review is to use his sentence “and once you awaken your inner leader, you should exercise it every day. Because the more you use this power, the better you’ll come to know it. And the stronger it’ll get”.

It’s worthy to remember that while trying to LWT and reconnecting with your best, you may have insecurities, problems, concerns and complaints. Sharma admitted that and provided a golden advice. Check this out:

 “I should also mention that you’ll strengthen what you speak about. So if you spend a lot of time grumbling and complaining about all the stress and change that you are experiencing at work, you actually heighten the stress and change in your awareness. What you focus on grows. And where your words go, your energy flows. So speaking about something amplifies it within your perception because you’re giving your attention and energy to it.

Leadership is about knowing very little about most things and a staggering amount about a few things. But they become fantastic at the few things they focus on. Focus. Focus. Focus. Focus. To the point of obsession.

Isn’t obsession unhealthy? I asked.

Not if it’s a healthy obsession. Developing a burning desire to do a great work because it serves as a vehicle to help you express your absolute best is incredibly healthy”.

Simply, always think and act as a ‘champion’ and remember that “daily ripple of excellence over time becomes a tsunami of success”.

 Some quotes and takeaways

Here are some quotes and takeaways that I found them very useful:

  • “Leaders are those individuals who do the things that failures aren’t willing to do- even though they might not like doing them either”.
  • “The best way to help the poor people is to make sure you don’t become one of them”.
  • “Getting lost along your path is a part of finding the path you’re meant to be”.
  • “Things often have to fall apart before they can be rebuilt in a much better way.
  • “Life had to break you down so you could be rebuilt better”.
  • “There will be plenty of time to sleep once you are dead…Getting up an hour earlier every day gives you seven extra hours in a week. That’s thirty fresh hours in a month. Almost an extra workweek every thirty days”.
  • “Potential unrealized turns to pain”.
  • “Every misstep brings you closer to the perfect step”.
  • “When you consistently move closer to what you are resisting, rather than push it all way, you’ll become not only way more confident in the way you do business. You will also become far more powerful in the way you lead a life”.
  • “Everyone does matter. And every teammate’s actions count. And each relationship sort of cascades throughout the entire company”.
  • “Everyone you meet- regardless of their title and the way they appear- is someone’s son or daughter. Everyone has a story that’s worth hearing. And knows some lessons worth learning”.
  • “The fact of the matter is most of us are pretty insecure creatures”.
  • “It takes a really powerful and secure human being to be quite enough to let the ideas of others be considered and heard”.
  • “Leave every single person who intersects your path better, happier and more engaged than you found them”.
  • “You always want to do whatever it takes to be the most inspired person in the room”.

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