Leading with Impact: Essential Principles

Leading with Impact: Essential Principles from Renowned Leaders and Books

There are a few questions that I get asked often:

Who was your mentor? (Weird that it would be past tense, but it often is. Am I too old to have one now? Too successful? NO to both of those!)

How do you rattle off so many books when in conversations and consulting? I read a lot! Never enough but a lot. Reading energizes, inspires and informs!

What book impacted you the most? Other than the Bible, that is very difficult for me to answer because so many have impacted me at different times in my life more than others.

For those that know me you will notice two glaring things in what I share below. 1. There are no John Maxwell books and 2. Start with Why is not below. As I wrote this that is when I knew there would be a part 2! Most of you know that it is rare for a day to go by when I am not saying to myself or someone else Start with Why or What’s the Why or make sure you go back to the Why.   If you know that about me, you probably also know that many times when asked who my mentor was I will respond John Maxwell via meeting him at his talks and his books. Today, however, these were on my mind because over the past week or two the below principles have come up in one way or another.

Enjoy this and stay tuned for Part 2 in the future!

  1. Lead by Example

From: “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek

A core principle from Simon Sinek’s book is that true leadership means putting the needs of others before your own. Sinek emphasizes the importance of leaders demonstrating the behavior they wish to see in their teams, creating a culture of trust and mutual respect.

Very early in life someone shared the poem, I Would Rather See a Sermon with me and it stuck.

Leaders Eat Last

  1. Build a Strong Vision

From: “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal

In *”Team of Teams,”* General Stanley McChrystal emphasizes the importance of a shared vision in aligning and empowering decentralized teams. A clear, compelling vision helps to unify efforts and ensure that all team members are working towards the same goals.

Vision, vision and vision. So many books could be listed here but I share the above because I am betting many of you have not read it. Worth the read.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

  1. Prioritize the Mission, Men, and Me

From: “Mission, Men, and Me” by Pete Blaber

Pete Blaber’s book introduces a crucial leadership principle: prioritize the mission first, your team second, and yourself last. This approach ensures that leaders make decisions that are in the best interest of the mission and their people, fostering a strong, loyal, and mission-focused team. This also prevents us from leading with our ego, it puts mission before ego.

As I finish up my term as President of NAWBO Northeast Ohio it is one thing that I am proud of about my term. When you transition leadership like this you can’t help but think back on so many things you could have done better, more of, etc. but this is one thing I know for certain I always did and that feels great.

The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander

  1. Empower Others

From: “Zapp”! the Lightning of Empowerment” by Wiliam C. Byham and “Turn the Ship Around!” by L. David Marquet

William C. Byham’s “Zapp!” explores the idea of empowerment, illustrating how empowering employees can spark enthusiasm and improve performance through real-life examples and practical advice.

Zapp had a huge impact on me and my consulting years ago. It named what I was seeing in organizations and it was very helpful and done in a fun way.

David Marquet’s book details how empowerment transforms leadership. By shifting decision-making authority to where the information is, leaders can foster a culture of ownership and accountability within their teams.

Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment

Turn the Ship Around!

  1. Practice Humility

From: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Jim Collins introduces the concept of Level 5 Leadership in his book, where humility combined with fierce resolve creates the highest level of leadership. Leaders should recognize the contributions of their teams and acknowledge that they do not have all the answers.

*Also see the Hedgehog Principle, very useful in organization planning

Good to Great

  1. Ensure Information Flow

From: “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead” by Jim Mattis

In “Call Sign Chaos,” Jim Mattis emphasizes the importance of information flow in leadership. Effective leaders ensure that information flows freely throughout the organization, enabling informed decision-making and fostering an environment of transparency and trust.

A takeaway I try to apply daily – What do you know, who needs to know it and have you told them?

Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead

  1. Be Adaptable

From: “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

Christensen’s book teaches that leaders must be adaptable in the face of change and innovation. Embracing flexibility and being willing to pivot, when necessary, can help organizations stay ahead of the curve.

This was so critical to me over the past 5 years and even today in my business and life.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

  1. Embrace Continuous Learning

From: “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge

Peter Senge’s work highlights the necessity of lifelong learning and personal mastery. He argues that organizations thrive when leaders foster a culture where learning is a continuous, collective process.

To practice this myself each year I set a goal for how many business and leadership books I will read and journal about and how many conferences and/or webinars I will attend for my own development. Leaders I work with that think that the development is only for others in the organization tend not to fair too well.

The Fifith Discipline


These principles provide a foundation and have been helpful to me personally and to other leaders I have worked with over the years. There are so many helpful resources out there, next month I’ll share Part 2 which may be expansions on the above principles along with additional.

For additional articles : https://berkshiregroupinc.com/blews/