Review: How to Lead When you are Not in Charge

Walk through a book shop (there are still a few left) and look through the business section. You will see scores of books on leadership. The thing is that many of us aren’t in positions where we are the sole leader, and the bottom line is that there aren’t many books on “following”, as opposed to “leading”.  Next time you are there, see how many have “following” in the title.  Most people have areas in their life that they are responsible for, and therefore lead but have more that someone else is responsible for and therefore we are following. How do we do that? This is what this book is seeking to address.

Clay Scroggins is a the lead pastor at North Point Community Church (think Andy Stanley). Therefore, you would expect this book to be pragmatic and it fundamentally is: from North Point and has “How to..” in the title, seriously, what else would it be? If you are looking for lots of good advice, on following under someone else’s direction this is great. A lot could have been included in a secular book on this subject, other points Scroggins goes into some theological foundations for his points, which I would have loved to see more of. But make no mistake this is not just for written for a ministry context.

I should disclose that this review is based on the Audible version of the book. Scroggins read his own book and unlike other people who do Audible books, acknowledges through the reading that you can’t see diagrams, says ‘listening’ rather than reading and acknowledges uses a tone of humour when it is needed. If you are not a reader, this is not a bad format to get into the book with.

What Scroggins covers is: the difference between positional leadership and influence leadership. He keeps repeating the challenge: “Don’t wait until you are in a position of leadership, lead now”.

“Great leaders know how to lead when they are in charge because they were leading long before they were ever given that authority. That’s the big idea I hope you take away from this book. I hope you see it is possible to lead from where you are right now.” Chapter 11.

There are three sections to the book. The first looks at what is determining how you think of leadership and what you think leadership is, challenging the idea that you need to be in a position to lead. It also looks at a few influences you may not be aware of when it comes to youth taking about leadership: your background, culture, etc.

The second is about developing as a leader, starting with leading yourself. And the final section is about how to relate to your leader and look to the future.

Throughout the book, he does have some wise advice on dealing with leaders who are over you, especially when they override your your decisions, how to have confronting conversations with them in a godly way and how to show your support towards them.

Who is this book good for? For people who are developing as leaders. I would recommend this for any assistant ministers, especially those who are just coming out of college. But also for anyone, in minstry or not, who needs practical advice on how to relate to those we are answerable to.

But the book also highlights a need for more books to be addressing the issue not just on how to lead well, but how to follow well. We all need to learn to do that better.


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