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Q&A with Robin Sharma on The Leader Who Had No Title

1. Tell me about the title of your book, The Leader Who Had No Title. What does it mean?

The Leader Who Had No Title is all about a game changing idea: leadership is no longer just for CEOs and heads of state. In this new - and deeply turbulent world we live in - everyone now has the opportunity (and responsibility) to show leadership in all that they do. Anyone can Lead Without a Title. By using the transformational ideas in the book, that I've been sharing with our clients like Nike, FedEx, GE, Microsoft and IBM for over 15 years, readers will take their work lives to wow, create explosive results and step into the lives they were built to lead.

2. With the bestsellers The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Greatness Guide (1 and 2), you may be seen more as a self-help author. What led to you giving your new book a business angle?

Yes, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Greatness Guide are personal development books. But I've been a leadership advisor to celebrity CEOs, iconic entrepreneurs and many of the FORTUNE 500 for many many years. Most of my professional focus has been helping organizations around the world develop people who Lead Without a Title so they win in these turbulent times. I should also add that The Leader Who Had No Title isn't just for businesspeople. Anyone can lead. This is a book for any human being who wants to shift from being a victim to becoming a leader. For anyone who wants to do brilliant work and lead a world-class life.

3. It's interesting how basically everything in life comes down a choice (what you do, what you think, how you react, and so on). For instance, you mention that there's no such thing as a dead-end job, only dead-end thinking. How do you get yourself to a place to even realize that's a choice, and how do you break yourself free from that thinking?

In the book I share a proven formula that helps people make the shift in mindset that you are mentioning, so that they step into their power to drive positive change and influence everyone around them. One of the first moves to make is to simply understand that-no matter who you are, where you live and what you do, you have the power to leave everything you touch better than you found it. We all can do brilliant work, innovate elegantly, model mastery and make a real difference. And life's just too short to play small.

4. You discuss how part of releasing negative energy is forgiveness. How do you that? Does this involve a conversation, or is it something to unlock within yourself, or both?

I just sent a tweet recently that said: "Real leaders balance being fiercely courageous with being deeply compassionate". In The Leader Who Had No Title, I show people exactly how the billionaires/top CEOs/superstars get the wow results that they get. But leadership is a lot more than just winning. It's about adding value, energizing people and helping them become their fullest potential. On a personal leadership level, yes, letting go of the past so you can step into a brighter future is a powerful move. And it starts with the choice to let go. And move ahead.

5. You say that part of a leader's job is to inspire greatness in others, and we all have the freedom to choose how we view our roles (either positively or negatively). As a leader how do you define "greatness", and how do you set a reasonable expectation for this outcome when many people will have different ideas and desires than your own?

I define "greatness" as having the daily courage to express your absolute best while delivering genius-level value to as many people as possible. Greatness to me is also about leaving your ego at the front door every morning so that you truly Lead Without a Title and do world-class work. I also believe that one cannot be great without being authentic. That means being true to you, living your dreams and values and presenting your absolute best to the world around you.

Yes, it's important that everyone arrive at their own definition of greatness and success. Ultimately, we have to live our lives on our own terms if we want to be our best. "Be yourself-everyone else is taken," wrote Oscar Wilde.

6. What was the most recent thing you did to motivate yourself? How did you do it?

I took up the challenge of a part-time job as a ski instructor! In The Leader Who Had No Title, one of the teachers is a ski pro who reveals that "tough runs build better skiers" and that "the more you go to your limits, the more your limits will expand." To me, the fears you don't face become your walls. So I set that challenge to help me stretch and grow. It threw me out of my comfort zone-which is the only place that true and lasting growth (and transformation) happens.

7. What is the big message that you'd like readers to take-away when they read this book?

The bottom line of this book is this: You Can Lead Without a Title. No matter what you do, each day, you have the choice of playing a victim or being a virtuoso. And when you get to the last hour of your last day, I guarantee every reader of this book that they'll be happy of they stood for leade.


Q&A with Robin Sharma on Leadership 2.0

Q1. You advise the big players of this world on Leadership. What do you teach them first and foremost?

I advise them that the old model of leadership is dead. Look at Wall Street firms that have crumbled, organizations that have fallen and CEOs who were once revered, who have now lost face. The new model of leadership is all about Leading Without a Title. That doesn't mean that titles and positions no longer matter. It simply means that any business that really wants to win in a time of dramatic disruption needs to build the leadership capability of every employee, at all levels. This is Leadership 2.0. and organizations that don't make the leap will end up obsolete.

Q2. Could your teaching also apply to the bosses of small and medium-sized companies?

Absolutely. The game changing idea that the #1 competitive advantage in this time of radical change is building leaders at all levels not only applies to our FORTUNE 500 clients like Microsoft, GE and NIKE but to any business in the marketplace today. In my book "The Leader Who Had No Title" I distill exactly what the best businesspeople and organizations are doing that most don't. These tactics include daily innovation, creating a base of fanatical followers who are your customers, building a Leadership Culture and the importance of transparency.

Q3. What characterizes a leader?

Management is obsolete. Any company that is serious about winning (or even staying alive) should stop thinking about management and start obsessing about leadership - especially the imperative of every employee Leading Without a Title. Just imagine a company where every single employee worked like Roger Federer plays tennis. That's what the whole Lead Without a Title philosophy is about.

Q5. Can we learn what it is necessary to become a good leader?

Absolutely. Exceptional leadership isn't born - it's built. The best leaders have trained and practiced their craft. That's good news for anyone in business today: all that stands between you and world-class is learning the science of leadership and then practicing it every day to mastery.

Q6. Did the economic crisis change the expectations of companies towards leaders?

Of course. Given the behaviors of so many once-respected leaders, stakeholders are now demanding only the highest standards of performance, transparency and ethics of their leaders. In The Leader Who Had No Title, I write: "it could take you 20 years to build a great reputation and 20 seconds to lose it - in one act of bad judgment."

Q7. Which are, according to you, the new important criteria for a Leader?

  1. Leave our egos at the front door and do brilliant work - that adds remarkable value for your customers.
  2. Build a phenomenally great team. A mediocre team results in a mediocre company.
  3. Innovate and disrupt the way you think and perform daily in hot pursuit of something even better.
  4. Build deep relationships.
  5. Be authentic and transparent. Winning companies show they are the real deal and live their brand.