19. The Law of Timing

The Law of Timing: When to Lead is as Important as What to do and Where to Go

This should be a very exciting chapter to explore considering I’m wrestling with timing issues in my life. Am I too young? Am I overly ambitious? Am I underprepared? Are there others more equipped to serve right now? Am I overcommiting myself? Is this where I need to be? What can I do while I wait for a door to open? So, I’m excited.

We are first introduced to the poorly timed leadership of those in positions of power in NOLA during Hurricane Katrina. Supposedly, they didn’t act in a timely manner and that led to all sorts of chaos and misfortune. Then, leaders at all levels of government also took their time to get the people the safety and provision that they needed- 6 days after Katrina hit! That’s crazy! Imagine being straneded on your roof for 6 days! Almost 2000 people died! And a large portion of those lives could’ve been saved by more swift and proactive measures on the part of the leadership. That makes me sad. 😦

Every time a leader makes a move, there are really only four outcomes:

  1. The wrong action at the wrong time leads to disaster.
  2. The right action at the wrong time brings resistance. Good leadership timing requires many things.
    1. Understanding- leaders must have a firm grasp on the situation
    2. Maturity
    3. Confidence- leaders must know what must be done
    4. Decisiveness
    5. Experience- if leaders don’t possess experience, then they need to gain wisdom from others who do posses it.
    6. Intuition- timing often depends on intangibles, such as momentum and morale.
    7. Preparation- leaders must create ideal conditions
  3. The wrong action at the right time is a mistake.- People who are naturally entrepreneurial often possess a strong sense of timing. They intuitively know when it’s time to make a move- to seize an oportunity. They sometimes make mistaskes in their actions at those key moments.
  4. The right action at the right time results in success. – Success almost becomes inevitable.

There comes a special moment in everyone’s life, a moment for which that person was born. That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission- a mission for which he is uniquely qualified. In that moment, he finds greatness. It is his finest hour.. p. 239

If a leader repeatedly shows poor judgment, even in little things, people start to think that having him as the leader is the real mistake. p. 237


  1. “It has been said that managers do things right while leaders do the right things. The Law of Timing says that leaders do more than that: they do the right things at the right time. ” I could get better at my timing, both in being persistent and taking action and also while slowing things down a bit. I’ve learned how to slow things down, but I also have to make sure I proactively pursue the proper timing for actions related to business and personal matters, especially if those actions need to happen sooner than later. More specifically, now is the time for me to build a lot of momentum while my lady is away and while I have inertia. Now is the time for me to be honest with myself and to make the necessary sacrifices both with PRI and ROI to build for the summer. Now is the time!
  2. I don’t think I necessary have any failed initiatives for my organzation. I still need to make sure I lead by example and continue to encourage people to pursue their goals. The key is to specifically document goals and to hold folks accountable. I have failed in personal life in media editing and extracurricular leadership development.
  3. These questions are game changers:
    1. Understanding- Do you have a firm grasp on the situation?
    2. Maturity- Are your motives right?
    3. Confidence- Do you believe in what you are doing?
    4. Decisiveness- Can you initiate action with confidence and win people’s trust?
    5. Experience- Have you drawn upon wisdom from others to inform your strategy?
    6. Intuition- Have you taken into account intangibles such as momentum and morale?
    7. Preparation- Have you done everything you must to set up your team for sucess?

The answer to these questions is that I can do better in all of them. I may need to print this and review this today!.

Remember, only the right action at the right time will bring success to your team, department, or organization. p. 243

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18. The Law of Sacrifice

The Law of Sacrifice: A Leader Must Give Up to Go Up

It’s kind of interesting that I was just discussing sacrifice with a mentor yesterday. We must be willing to give up a little now in return for a better tomorrow. We must be willing to invest in ourselves, our communities, and our legacies. But sacrifice is hard!

It’s so amazing that the story of sacrificial leadership used as an example in the passage is none other than the good Bro. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I actually learned a lot about him in that he skipped 9th and 12th grade, was ordained as a minister at 19 and then got his PhD. This dude was legit! But the more his leadership and influence increased, the greater his sacrifice. He led the movement against segregation in Alabama and in the U.S., but was attacked more and more by way of bombings, assault, threats, and eventually gunshot. This man’s life was the epitome of sacrifice and I’m truly inspired to find something that I’m so passionate about that I would die for it. It’s also interesting that the subtitles are “Seeds of Greatness” and “Seeds of Sacrifice”. God works in mysterious ways doesn’t he?

  1. There is no success without sacrifice- Philosopher-poet Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something.” Life is a series of trades, one thing for another.
  2. Leaders are often asked to give up more than others- Once you take on responsibility, you start to experience limitations in what you can do. The more responsibility you accept, the fewer options you have. Everyone who leads gives up other opportunities. Some people have to give up beloved hobbies. Many give up aspects of their personal lives. Some, like King, give their actual lives.
  3. You must keep give up to stay up- But in leadership, sacrifice is an ongoing process, not a one-time payment. Today’s success is the great threat to tomorrow’s success. And what gets a team to the top isn’t what keeps it there. The only way to stay up is to give up even more. Leadership success requires continual change, constant improvement, and ongoing sacrifice. “If I do the job well, I believe the salary will take care of itself.”
  4. The higher the level of leadership, the greater the sacrifice When the price is low, everybody bids. In the end, only one person is willing to pay the high price that the item actually costs. It’s the same in leadership: the higher you go, the more it’s going to cost you. That is a price not many people are willing to pay. p. 226

There can be no success without sacrifice. Anytime you see success, you can be sure someone made sacrifices to make it possible. And as a leader, if you sacrifice, even if you don’t witness the success, you can be sure that someone in the future will benefit from what you’ve given. p. 226

I think in her mind they were not sacrifices, but things to do that were necessary to keep with [Rice’s] goals. p. 228

We are then taken through the grueling years of sacrifice that Condolezza Rice made in her journey to the U.S. governement. She spent years and years developing her musical skills, while also honing her abilities in other areas such as figure skating. She made a life altering decision to pursue international politics in college, and then ended up making even more sacrifices to move up through the acdemic ranks, eventually becoming a provost of a university. After all those years, she transitioned into her government role as the U.S. Secretary of State. That’s very inspiring. Seek to be an expert in all things that you do and doors will open for you.


  1. I am willing to make sacrifices to improve my leadership,as I have shown. However, there’s always room for improvement. The main thing that I have to do is give up sleep and still maintain my attitude and energy levels. I can also do a better job of scheduling my time and sticking to it, because then I operate with a sense of urgency, like I am right now. It’s even making me type faster! I am willing to sacrifice my time, fun, surface relationships, and pride in order to go up. I am not willling to sacrifice my integrity, my spirituality, my family, or my close friends.
  2. I’m still trying to determine what I really have to offer the world of great value, even for the purpose of exchanging for something of greater value. I offer my drive, my passion for community, and my financial credentials. At some point, I may be required to give up my business aspirations to accept a leadership role. I’m still exploring this concept.
  3. To avoid destination disease or “I have arrivived” syndrome, I will continue making goals and visions that are much bigger than myself. I aspire to eliminate poverty through financial education and economic empowerment. Arriving at that point may take a VERY long time. However, in the short run, I have to be careful about “arriving” when it comes to business or relationships. My life fluctuates like the market, and everytime I believe I’ve made it, I’m quickly humbled. By focusing on my real and personal goals, I can push through those times when I get too comfortable. Motivating a team and inspiring others will continue to push me through times of contentment. I do set learning goals for myself, but the key is to start them and stick with them.
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17. The Law of Priorities

The Law of Priorities: Leaders Understand that Activity is not Necessarily Accomplishment

Man! We hear this all the time! Activity doesn’t necessarily mean productivity. We not only have to be efficient with our time, but we have to be effective too!

First, when we are busy, we naturally believe that we are achieving. But busyness does not equal productivity. Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. Second, prioritizing requires leaders to continually think ahead, to know what’s important, to know what’s next, to see how everything relates to the overall vision. That’s hard work. Third, prioritizing causes us to do things that are at the least uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful. p. 207

But leadership has nothing to do with comfort and everything to do with progress. p. 208

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” p. 209

  1. What is required?- What must I do that nobody can or should do for me?… If I’m doing something that’s not necessary, I should eliminate it. If I’m doing something that’s necessary but not required of me personally, I need to delegate it.
  2. What gives the greatest return?- As a leader, you should spend most of your time work in your areas of greatest strength. Ideally, leaders should get out of their comfort zone and get in their strength zone. Just because you can do something does not mean you should do do it.
  3. What brings the greatest reward?- Life is too short not to do some things you love. And passion provides the fuel in a person’s life to keep him going. p. 211

We are presented with several anecdotes about the author’s act of re-prioritizing by moving his company, selling his company, and structuring his schedule around his strengths and most rewarding experiences. The CEO of GE sold several parts of the business in order to focus on the ones that they did best.  We finally hear how John Wooden took the college basketball team he coached to an unprecedented number of winning seasons and championships by prioritizing and strategizing ahead of time and using every second of practice to bring out the potential in each player.


  1. I’m not sure if there’s anything in my life that is working so poorly that I need a major revision. I am working on my time management, consistency, and integrity. I have been eating better and at least doing push-ups. I’m still fighting procrastination. I’m not sure.
  2. This was actually a cool activity. On a piece of paper, I wrote down things that I feel I had to do, things that would bring the most benefit in the future, and things that I truly enjoyed. I don’t do much outside those areas.
  3. I will start prioritizing my day on the night before and will plan out the next month on the last week of the month.
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16. The Law of the Big Mo

The Law of the Big Mo: Momentum is a Leader’s Best Friend

If you’ve got all the passion, tools, and people you need to fulfill a great vision, yet you can’t seem to get your organization moving and going in the right direction, you’re dead in the water as a leader. p. 193

These laws seem to just be coming right on time. With the PRI team, we’re building some momentum! The key is to keep it moving. Maybe this law will help us build more and more Mo.

When you’ve got great momentum, you don’t want to do anything to get in its way. p. 197

We take a walk through the maturation of Pixar and animated film as the innovators of the technology struggled to get things going. But Toy Story was the first big animated hit created by Pixar and Disney, and ever since, things have been expanding rapidly! All thanks to the leadership and resilience of Catmull and Lasseter.

Many times momentum is the only thing that makes the difference between losing and winning. p. 197

  1. Momentum is the Great Exaggerator- When you have momentum, you don’t worry about small problems, and many larger ones seem to work themselves out.
  2. Momentum Makes Leaders Look Better than They Are- Once a leader creates some success for his organization and develops career momentum, then people give him more credit than he deserves.
  3. Momentum Helps Followers Perform Better Than They Are- Even average people can perform far above average in an organization with great momentum.
  4. Momentum is Easier to Steer than to Start- Getting started is a struggle, but once you’re moving forward, you can really start to do some amazing things.
  5. Momentum is the Most Powerful Change Agent- Given enough momentum, nearly any kind of change is possible in an organization. People like to get on a winning bandwagon. Followers trust leaders with a proven track record. They accept changes from people who have led them to victory before. Momentum puts victory within reach.
  6. Momentum is the Leader’s Responsibility- It takes a leader to create momentum. But creating momentum requires someone who has vision, can assemble a good team, and motivates others.
  7. Momentum Begins Inside the Leader- If you don’t believe in the vision and enthusiastically pursue it, doing all that you can to bring it to fruition, then you won’t start making the small gains required to get the ball rolling. However, if you model enthusiasm to your people day in and day out, you attract like-minded people to your team, department, or organization and motivate them to achieve. You will begin to see forward progress. Once you do, you will begin to generate momentum.


  1. I will do better about being passionate about the vision, displaying enthusiasm at all times, motivating others even when I don’t feel like it, and modeling the attitude and work ethic that I would like to see in others. I will display character leadership.
  2. The only things that I can think of that cause people to lose passion and enthusiasm in PRI are rescheduled appointments, poor exam grades, intimidation by on-boarding, self-doubt, low activity levels, and life events. Most of these can be solved by pure determination and discipline.
  3. “To encourage momentum, you need to help your people celebrate their accomplishments. Make it a regular practice to honor people who move the ball forward. You want to continually praise effort but reward accomplishments. The more you reward success, the more people will strive for it.”
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15. The Law of Victory

The Law of Victory: Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win

But I think that victorious leaders have one thing in common: they share an unwillingness to accept defeat. The alternative to winning is totally unacceptable to them. As a result, they figure out what must be done to achieve victory. p. 179

Winners win. Period. Not because they don’t lose, but because they don’t quit. Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

Crisis seems to bring out the best- and the worst- in leaders because at such times the pressure is intense and the stakes are high. p. 179

We are immediatley immersed in the story of how Prime Minister Winston Churchill saved the democratic world from the onslaught of the Nazi’s by rallying the British people and securing the alliance of Franklin Roosevelt. Victory was the only option.

When the pressure is on, great leaders are at their best. Whatever is inside them comes to the surface. p. 182

The best leaders feel compelled to rise to a challenge and do everythin in their power to achieve victory for their people. In their view…

  • Leadership is responsible.
  • Losing is unacceptable.
  • Passion is unquenchable.
  • Creativity is essential.
  • Quitting is unthinkable.
  • Commitment is unquestionable.
  • Victory is inevitable.

We are then taken through the journeys of Nelson Mandela and athletes whose mere presence helped their teams secure the victory.

Three Components of Victory

  1. Unity of Vision- Teams succeed only when the players have a unified vision, no matter how much talent or potential there is.
  2. Diversity of Skills- We’re all like parts of the human body. For that body to do its best, it needs all of its parts, each doing its own job.
  3. A Leader Dedicated to Victory and Raising Players to Their Potential- Unity of vision doesn’t happen spontaneously. The right players with the proper diversity of talent don’t come together on their own. It takes a leader to make those things happen. It takes a leader to provide the motivation, empowerment, and direction required to win. p. 187

Leaders who practice the Law of Victory believe that anything less than success is unacceptable. And they have no Plan B. That is why they keep fighting. And it’s why they continue to win! p. 189


  1. “It must become personal. Your commitment must be higher than that of your team members. Your passion should be high. Your dedication must be unquestioned.” I believe I’m making great progress towards being at this point! I believe I am pursuing the right vision, in the right organization, and I believe I’m a great leader!
  2. Considering the nature of business, we can focus on getting more people with different skill sets while also developing the team members we have now. Our skills include coachability, tenacity, discipline, focus, vision, consistency, persistence, personability, courage, attention to detail, competitiveness, diligence, ambition, and empathy.
  3. I’ll work on assessing the collective views and goals of the team and I’ll distill it into a team mission.
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14. The Law of Buy-In

The Law of Buy-In: People Buy into the Leader, Then the Vision

I already like this law because it speaks directly to the kind of momentum that I’m trying to build. I understand that the vision is as strong as the leader’s commitment to the vision. I’m committed to improving the alignment of my actions with my vision. As my discipline and effectiveness increase, I have absolute confidence that my results will drastically improve as well.

We began today’s reading with an account of Ghandi’s ascension into national leadership. Ghandi’s world travels and education eventually brought him back to India where he led the non-violent revolution against British oppression. It seems as if the leader can almost guide followers in any direction once credibility and respect are established. Ghandi first earned everyone’s respect and buy-in and THEN became much better at persuading his people to revolt non-violently, even to the point of burning all their foreign clothes and walking 200 miles! That’s some serious influence!

The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and then the dream. p. 170

People don’t at first follow worthy causes. They follow worthy leaders who promote causes they can believe in. People buy into the leader first, then the leader’s vision. p. 171

Every message that people receive is filtered through the messenger who delivers it. If you consider the messenger to be credible, then you believe the message has value…Once people have bought into someone, they are willing to give the person’s vision a chance. People want to go along with people they get a long with. p. 173

I think this is a fairly simple concept and yet still profound. That’s why athletes and entertainers are so influential! You can have the best message in the world but it has to come from the right person.

The only time people will follow a leader they don’t like with a vision they don’t believe in is when the leader has some kind of leverage. p. 173

When people believe in their leader and the vision, they will follow their leader no matter how bad conditions get or how much the odds are stacked against them. p. 175

But if I had tried to sell my vision instead of selling myself, I wouldn’t have succeeded in helping those people get where they needed to go. And in the process I would have undermined my ability to lead them. As a leader, you don’t earn any points for failing in a noble cause. You don’t get credit for being “right” as you bring the organization to a halt. Your success is measured by your ability to actually take the people where they need to go. But you can do that only if the people first buy into you as a leader. That’s the reality of the Law of Buy-In. p. 177


  1. I do indeed have a vision for both ROI and PRI. I lead because I have been given the passion and vision to commit myself to results-driven action.  The mission of the Royal Oak Initiative is to engage the young in age and the young at heart in independent critical thinking and strategic problem solving while connecting them with community and business professionals to empower them in the areas of leadership, entrepreneurship, and personal finance. My vision for Primerica is to utilize the massive distribution system of financial services as well as the opportunity to significantly increase financial education through subsidized licensing and training in order to perpetuate collective economic empowerment, self-actualization, and spiritual stewardship. I am absolutely determined to make both of these visions come alive.
  2. With PRI, my lead teammates are Kinyell and David. I would say that KG’s buy-in is a 7 and David’s is a 9. I believe they both have bought-into the vision and are determined to make their mark on the world through business.
  3. I do need to do better about establish credibility with new associates. Perhaps I can host a monthly team dinner or something of that nature. Time spent training one-on-one will also be helpful.
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13. The Law of the Picture

The Law of the Picture: People Do What People See

This chapter starts out telling a few stories about some men who fought in World War II. They had good leaders and bad leaders. Moral of the story is that good leadership means leading by example, especially in a war setting; the officers led the charge.

Great leaders always seem to embody two seemingly disparate qualities. They are both highly visionary and highly practical. p. 158

Mission provides purpose- answering the question, Why? Vision provides a picture- answering the question, What? Strategy provides a plan- answering the question, How? p. 159

Leaders are paid to be dreamers. The higher you go in leadership, the more your work is about the future. At the same time, leaders are practical enough to know that vision without action achieves nothing. They make themselves responsible for helping their followers to take action. That can be difficult because followers often cannot envision the future as the leader does. They can’t picture what’s best for the team. They lose track of the big picture. Why? Because vision has a tendency to leak. p. 159

The temptation for many leaders is to merely communicate about the vision…The leader’s effective communication of the vision makes the picture cleare. But that is not enough. The leader must also live the vision. The leader’s effective modeling of the vision makes the picture come alive! Good leaders are always conscious of the fact that they are setting the exaxmple and others are going to do what they do, for better or worse. In general, the better the leaders’ actions, the better their people’s. p. 159

1. Followers are always watching what you do.

2. It’s easier to teach what’s right than to do what’s right.

“Nothing is more confusing that people who give good advice but set a bad example.” p. 161

“Leaders tell but never teach until they practice what they preach.” -Featherstone p. 162

3. We should work on changing ourselves before trying to improve others.

4. The most valuable gift a leader can give is being a good example.

Leadership is more caught than taught.

You cannot ask those who work for you to do something you’re unwilling to do yourself. -Rudy Giuliani p. 165


  1. I wrote down several values that are important to me including: integrity, leadership, purpose, passion, commitment, courage, faith, discipline, compassion, and service. Some things that I did that didn’t align with those values were: being late, not reading daily, not recruiting, not editing photos in a timely manner, not having urgency about personal discipline and development, and not exercising. Let’s just say there’s room for improvement.
  2. I have asked Mr. Swoope to observe my behaviors for a week to see how they line up with my values.
  3. Three things I wish my people did better: stronger sense of urgency, more self-development, better communication. I definitely have to model these behaviors first and share them with the team.
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12. The Law of Empowerment

The Law of Empowerment: Only Secure Leaders Give Power to Others

I know this isn’t necessarily related to the passage, but I think Henry Ford’s philosophy on mass producing his vehicles fits perfectly with what I’m aspiring to accomplish in financial services.

I will build a motorcar for the multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one- and enjoy with his family the blessings of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces. -p. 141

This is not the typical story you hear about Henry Ford. According to the reading, Henry Ford used to tear down his employees and his leaders, undermining their abilities, rejecting their ideas, and trying to maintain too much control. Thus, the initial momentum that they built was lost, and even more so when his son, who was next in line, died at age 49. However, Henry Ford’s grandson, Henry, took a different approach to leadership by hiring and recruiting some of the best in the industry to turn things around, despite the company having not been profitable in 15 years! So, he got the best people but instead of continually lifting them up, he would also undermine them and then get rid of them once they got too comfortable or he found someone better. Clearly this style of cutting the legs off the best leaders wasn’t necessarily the best approach either.

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. -Theodore Roosevelt

To lead others well, we must help them to reach their potential. That means being on their side, encouraging them, giving them power, and helping them to succeed. p. 145

Maxwell then goes on to say that childhood games reinforce this winner-loser mindset: games like King of the Hill and Follow the Leader.

In cultures where you have to fight to make something of yourself, the assumption often is that you need to fight others to maintain your leadership. But reflects a scarcity mind-set. The truth is that if you give some of your power away to others, there is still plenty to go around. p. 146

To keep others down, you have to go down with them. And when you do that, you lose any power to lift others up. p. 146

When a leader can’t or won’t empower others, he creates barriers within the organization that followers cannot overcome. If the barriers remain long enough, then the people give up and stop trying, or they go away to another organization where they can maximize their potential. p. 146

I think it’s interesting that the first barrier to empowerment mentioned is the fear of loss. We are trained on that all the time! Fear of loss is one of the greatest motivators known to man. But in this case, it can be bad. If you are too worried about losing your job, why would you work to make other people better, who could eventually take your job? That’s the same thing we talk about at Primerica when referring to real estate. What’s the likelihood that a broker wants all of her best agents to leave the company and become brokers?

If the teams you lead always seem to succeed, people will figure out that you are leading them well. p. 147

The second barrier to empowerment is resistance to change.

By its very nature, empowerment brings constant change because it encourages people to grow and innovate. Change is the price of progress. That’s not always easy to live with. Most people don’t like change. That’s a fact. Yet one of the most important responsibilities of leaders is to continually improve their organizations. As a leader, you must train yourself to embrace change, to desire it, to make a way for it. Effective leaders are not only willing to change; they become change agents. p. 147

The #3 Barrier to Empowerment is Lack of Self-Worth.

Self-conscious people are rarely good leaders. They focus on themselves, worrying how they look, what others think, whether they are liked. They can’t give power to others because they feel that they have no power themselves. And you can’t give what you don’t have. p. 148

This is exhibited by Abraham Lincoln who filled his presidential cabinet with some of this greatest opposition that way he would have the strongest leaders and brightest minds helping him make decisions.


  1. I would say my sense of self-worth rates a solid 7/10. There is room for improvement but I’m cognizant of my leadership potential, resources, and abilities. I do believe I have value and I’m willing to take risks. I also acknowledge when I make mistakes.
  2. I do believe in people- to a fault. I have the ability to see people for what they can become.
  3. When it comes to me empowering folks, that comes in the form of developing my own field trainers. I have two business associates who are on the verge of exiting the training stage. I will focus on empowering them with the confidence and competence that it takes to be successful in business.
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11. The Law of the Inner Circle

The Law of the Inner Circle: A Leader’s Potential is Determined by Those Closest to Him

Nobody does anything great alone. p. 127

Leaders have to deliver. There is no substitute for performance. But without a good team, they often don’t get the opportunity. Their potential is determined by those closest to them. That is the Law of the Inner Circle. p. 129

I’ve always contended that good communicators take something complicated and make it simple. p. 129

The leader finds greatness in the group, and he or she helps members find it in themselves. p. 131

Only if you reach your potential as a leader do your people have a chance to reach their potential. p. 131

Questions to qualify your inner circle:

  1. Do they have high influence on others?
  2. Do they bring a complementary gift to the table?
    1. But one of the best things I have done in my leadership career is to bring a few key people into my inner circle who possess strengths in my areas of weakness.
  3. Do they hold a strategic position in the organization?
  4. Do they add value to me and to the organization?
    1. They should have a proven track record as assets to the organization.
  5. Do they positively impact other inner circle members?
  6. Do they display excellence, maturity, and good character in everything they do?

In fact, in most cases you will also need to develop them before they are ready to take their place in that circle. p. 135

Once you’ve reached your capacity in time and energy, the only way you can increase your impact is through others. Every person in my inner circle is a high performer and either extends my influence beyond my reach or helps me to grow and become a better leader. p. 135

If you want to increase your capacity and maximize your potential as a leader, your first step is always to become the best leader you can. The next is to surround yourself with the best leaders you can find. Never forget that a leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. That’s the Law of the Inner Circle. That’s the only way you can reach the highest level possible. p. 137


  1. Do you know who your inner circle members are? They are the people you seek out for advice, turn to for support, and rely on to help you get things done.
  • Tai Cornute
  • Jonathon Stone
  • Walter Levert
  • Ani Mwalimu
  • Todd Suddeth
  • Garey Berry
  • Ernest Levert Sr
  • Chantale Levert
  • Joe Amos
  • Chigo Ekeke
  • David Swoope
  • Traviss Alexander
  • Jibril Alim

2. Effective leaders are continually developing current and future inner circle members.

  • They spend extra time with them strategically to mentor them and to develop relationships
  • They give them extra responsibility and place higher expectations on them.
  • They give them more credit when things go well and hold them accountable when they don’t.
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The Face of Leadership is Changing

God is good! I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to participate in the Project Diversity Leadership Program which focuses on providing participants with the leadership experience and training needed to become effective board members in the non-profit sector. We have orientation tonight where I’m sure we’ll get to meet each other and begin to capitalize on the amount of brilliance in the room.

However, we had homework first. We have been asked to read an article entitled “Today’s and Tomorrow’s Leaders” by the Harvard Business Review. Here are my biggest takeaways and insights.

We might not recognize the leaders we really need because of who they are, where they’re from, or how they behave.

  • The definition of leadership is changing as the world is shrinking. Companies need to recognize that leadership isn’t always directly transferable to other parts of the world.

The war for talent in these countries is fierce, so the name of the game is finding individuals with leadership potential, sometimes in unconventional places, and preparing them for senior positions.

  • The example given was of the African National Congress and the leaders that emerged during the fight against apartheid

You don’t launch an revolution without leadership and organization.

Leadership is about making emotional connections to motivate and inspire people, and our effectiveness at doing this has strong cultural overtones.

  • Next we hear about the story of HCL, an Indian-based information technology company which focuses on attracting the best talent in India and providing them with leadership opportunities to be innovative. Each sub-unit in the company competes for internal funding to support their ideas, thus allowing them to take on more ownership within the company.

Since necessity is often the mother of invention, I suspect some of the more disruptive leadership practices will come from those parts of the world. And I don’t doubt that over time, more top executives will as well. Right now, though, I fear that some of the most-promising global leaders remain largely invisible to us, just as many have long been invisible in their own countries. p. 3

  • We then are introduced to the idea that different markets have different limitations to leadership; they may be implicit in developed areas and explicit in developing areas. Some people aren’t recognized as leaders because of circumstantial attributes (e.g. race, gender, SES, etc.) vs. some are just overlooked based on their personality.

It’s also becoming clear that today’s complex environment often demands a team approach to problem solving. This requires a leader who, among other things, is comfortable sharing power and generous in doing so, is able to see extraordinary potential in ordinary people, and can make decisions with a balance of idealism and pragmatism. p. 3

“A leader, [Nelson Mandela] said, is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” p. 3

To me, this take on the shepherd image embodies the kind of leader we increasingly need: someone who understands how to create a context or culture in which other people are willing and able to lead. p. 3

  • Basically, a good leader creates opportunities for others to utilize their natural abilities so that they can lead at different times in their areas of strength. They have to be proactive and recognize their own talent in order to have the courage to step up and lead.
  • I think it’s very interesting that the age of leaders keeps coming up in conversation. At IBM, they started something called the World Development Initiative in which volunteers from across IBM came together to end poverty through global business development. Most of these folks were in their 20’s and 30’s. What a coincidence, eh? And the leader basically let them run their own show. Got to give the people what they want!

There’s one area in particular that calls for leading from behind, and that’s innovation. By definition, you don’t know exactly where you want to go. And innovation is almost always a collective process, the harnessing of the creative talents of a diverse group. p. 5

The people on the teams we’ve studied are often stars in their own right, and if you try to lead them from the front, they simply won’t follow. You have to create an environment in which they are engaged and in which the collective talent of team members is tapped by having everyone take the lead at some point. p. 6

“You have to create a world in which people want to belong.” One key is getting the stars that you’ve brought together to realize that their collective output can be more than the sum of their individually impressive parts. p. 6

If we’re trying to identify people who can lead from behind, we must be on the lookout for other indicators- for example, the extent to which individuals on a leader’s team are taking risks or the willingness of leaders to ask for help from the people on their team. p. 7

I’m not saying that if you simply go out and find the right people, your leadership problems will be solved. It’s not just about selection; it’s about development. Leaders of the future must be nurtured by their leaders, who need to make space and provide opportunities for their team members to grow and lead. p. 7

People may also acquire lead-from-behind skills working in volunteer settings. p. 7

The people on this team are inspired by its ultimate mission and aspire to get where they need to go, whatever the path they collectively end up taking. p. 7

  • Overall, leaders are not born. They are developed. And then they are given a chance to unleash their potential. Leaders develop other leaders.
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