Review – You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader by Mark Sanborn (Nonfiction)


You Don’t Need a Title To Be A Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference

by Mark Sanborn

Summary: In his inspiring new book, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader, Mark Sanborn, the author of the national bestseller The Fred Factor, shows how each of us can be a leader in our daily lives and make a positive difference, whatever our title or position.
Through the stories of a number of unsung heroes, Sanborn reveals the keys each one of us can use to improve our organizations and enhance our careers.
Genuine leadership – leadership with a “little l”, as he puts it, is not conferred by a title, or limited to the executive suite. Rather, it is shown through our everyday actions and the way we influence the lives of those around us. Among the qualities that genuine leaders share:
• Acting with purpose rather than getting bogged down by mindless activity
• Caring about and listening to others
• Looking for ways to encourage the contributions and development of others rather than focusing solely on personal achievements
• Creating a legacy of accomplishment and contribution in everything they do
As readers across the country discovered in The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn has an unparalleled ability to explain fundamental business and leadership truths through simple stories and anecdotes. You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader offers an inspiring message to anyone who wants to take control of their life and make a positive difference.

Source: I borrowed this book at my work library.

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NOTE: I will be reading a few of these types of book for my job and reviewing them as I finish.

I’m a bit torn on how to review the book. On the one hand, it was short and full of information that backs up the title. The scenarios go to show you that anyone can go the extra mile and that behavior is what creates leaders. You don’t need to be promoted in order to lead because it’s something you do everyday. On the other hand, it didn’t really say anything that I didn’t already know and it didn’t do a very good job of explaining anything. It was just a handful of scenarios.  For example, an entire section might be something along the lines of: Take So and So.. in his job he provided excellent customer service because he cared about his customers. So and So is a leader.

While nothing in the book was untrue, it was all very simplified. Being a leader can be that easy, but it completely misses the consequences of overstepping your bounds in certain positions and doesn’t get into the best ways to implement your knowledge. It’s easy to say “go above and beyond” without showing or telling people the best ways to actually do that. I think most of us could do without the empty “Be A Leader” phrases and anecdotes and get a little more real life advice if we are picking up a book with this theme in mind. I could Google leadership and basically read this book by skimming the various phrases and anecdotes with no real glue to tie them together and no insight as to why or how these behaviors are crucial.

However, perhaps some people need the pick me up and simplicity of the book, so I can’t completely knock it. It was full of relevant examples, many of which I’ve heard before. I work in customer service and it’s constantly ingrained in me to go the extra mile. Not for leadership purposes, but because that’s what good customer service is.

I’d recommend the book if you’re looking for a light and short read that is guaranteed to pick you up and give you some catchy leadership phrases and scenarios. If you’re looking for something more in depth, it misses the mark. It is probably a wonderful book to read if you feel overlooked in your current position and want to feel better about your impact. If you’ve ever had a supervisor who craved the title and not the responsibility, this book reminds you that they aren’t real leaders. For the right situations, this book is great.



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