Book Review: You don't need a title to be a leader

Full Disclosure - This review is based on an autographed copy of You don't need a title to be a leader sent to me by author Mark Sanborn.

Although I am a supervisor, I am not very fond of management books and especially cringe at books on leadership.

So I was pleasantly surprised by You don't need a title to be a leader by Mark Sanborn, author of the Fred Factor. At 104 pages, it is a pleasant and quick read. Although it will take more than a day to absorb its practices, it could be read at one sitting over a weekend.

Drawing upon his own work and the works of others, Mark posits that there are six principles of leadership:

  1. Self Mastery
  2. Focus
  3. Power with People
  4. Persuasive Communication
  5. Execution (What is your Implementation Quotient?)
  6. Giving

For more information about these principles, and an opportunity to sign up for Mark Sanborn's Leadership Lessons, check out the book's web site at

For the most part, Mark makes these six principles plausible and practical for anyone in a given organization. They are things you could start doing now without waiting for management/administration buy in. For example, as one way to increase self-mastery, Mark invites us to reflect on whether we view life as an obligation or an opportunity. We tend to run from or resent obligations, but who wants to miss an opportunity? Yet the power to decide which it is resides in us and not the external situation. We can choose to view things as opportunities. It is going to take some time to keep what I'd call, "opportunity goggles" on, but it seems to be doable.

Likewise, the chapter, "The Power of Persuasive Communication" has a number of doable tips that seem like they can improve things. And the chapter on "power with people" is not only helpful, but explains why the actual power structures in organizations don't necessarily follow the organizational chart.

The one thing I would have liked to see more on would be more ways to increase your "Implementation Quotient." Mark does offer some advice on this in his chapter on execution, but for some reason that part seemed more theoretical to me. Perhaps more brief case studies of how people became better at underpromising and overdelivering.

Overall, I think this short enjoyable book is worth your time. Check it out and let me know what you think. Maybe get a copy from a library and then buy your own copy if you find it as useful as I did.


Good review. I think most of us are skeptical of management titles, so it's always good to find a nugget or two as a takeaway.

At one of the library webpages I've been reviewing at my blog, I noticed that almost everyone except the director and janitor carried titles of "manager." Title inflation?

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