The one-sentence summary

Successful leaders will take on risk, change and ambiguity.


  • This book contains all the important stuff about leading well: motivating people, building networks, selling ideas, influencing people, giving feedback, evaluating people, and learning to be lucky
  • It takes you through the foundations, practice and mastering of leadership, and makes the point that leaders aren’t necessarily at the top of organisations
  • The main qualities fall into focusing on people, being positive, and being professional (that means having loyalty, honesty, reliability, solutions, and energy)
  • Leading from the middle involves finding your way through the matrix. Those who fall by the way are:

the expert (technically competent, but that’s all)
cave dweller (territorial)
politician (political)
boy scout (naïve)
autocrat (acts as though they already are a leader)


  • A survey of 1,000 leaders reveals the qualities they look for in emerging leaders:

adaptability, self-confidence, proactivity, reliability, and ambition

  • Luck is normally down to practice, persistence, and perspective
  • There are good quotes to be had here:

“ Many sins are forgivable, but disloyalty is not one of them.”

“An organisation full of Ghengis Khan wannabes is unlikely to be a happy place.”

“It is possible to learn leadership. If you know how to, you are well on the way to success.”

“The successful leader will take on risk, change and ambiguity.”

  • There is an interesting checklist of what people want from a good boss:
  1. Shows an interest in my career
  2. I trust them – they are honest with me
  3. I know where we are going and how to get there
  4. I am doing a worthwhile job
  5. I am recognized for my contribution


  • Not much. This is a well-organised and thoughtful book on leadership


A survey of 1,000 leaders reveals the qualities great leaders need: 3 Ps leading to a fourth:

· People focus

· Positivity

· Professionalism…leading to Performance.

He distinguishes between emerging leaders, leading from the middle, and those at the top.

Leadership foundations

Find the right boss; always deliver; no surprises; ditch the excuses; adapt your style; have an alternative; learn; do what is right; size the prize; understand costs and risks of decisions; follow strategy and values; build consensus; flip a coin – don’t hide, decide; motivate; set direction; communicate; fight the right battles

Towards leadership mastery

Start at the end; take responsibility; raise the bar; drive to action; act the part; keep on learning; set expectations; have a plan; shape your team; set your style; protect your territory; deliver results; craft an agenda

Ineffective leadership behaviours

Ego; no emotional quotient; focus solely on expertise; naïve about networks; hires weak clones; threatened by talent; poor delegation; problem focused; can’t do approach; retreats into comfort zone; political; keen on status.