“How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge” by Clay Scroggins – Book Review

March 4, 2021

“The way to lead is to serve, and the way to create something great is to give people space to thrive in the way God has gifted each one.”

Clay Scroggins

Have you ever heard the phrase, “if I were in charge, I’d do _________“…? Maybe you’ve said that exact phrase. (I know I have)

But complaining about the current leadership isn’t the way to make change. And neither is waiting around for someone else to give you leadership.

The way to make change for the better is to start leading where you are now.

But that also means you need to have the proper view of what it means to lead. Clay Scroggins outlines leadership in the way of Jesus on his first section of his book, and then moves on to talk about four practical behaviors that good leaders possess.

Good leaders lead themselves.

Good leaders don’t just exercise authority over others. They lead by example and ensure they are installing the proper disciplines and habits in their own life to keep growing and stay healthy. As former IBM CEO, Tom Watson, said, “Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does on a day-to-day basis to lead himself.” Jesus hinted at a similar truth when he talked about those who are faithful with a little being the ones who are entrusted with more. If you want to be able to lead more, start with being faithful in how you lead yourself.

Good leaders choose positivity.

There’s nothing worse than the person who is always cynical, always complaining, and always passively blaming others. People like that are exhausting. People like that drain others around them, instead of fill up others around them. People like that are not good leaders.

But choosing positivity is not the same as ignoring facts and pretending things are great. Leaders who are living in the way of Jesus can choose to focus on the positive because of what they know to be true about themselves and others: God has given them everything as a gift and he is actively at work in every situation.

Good leaders can choose positivity because they know what Paul knew in Philippians 1:20, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Good leaders think critically.

Thinking critically is not the same as being critical. I have often gotten stuck in the trap of critiquing all the things around me, thinking that’s how I can contribute to making things better. But “leaders who are critical thinkers don’t just criticize and whine, they learn.”

“Leaders who are critical thinkers don’t just criticize and whine, they learn.”

Clay Scroggins

Critical thinkers who are good leaders don’t just criticize things that they don’t like. They are able to empathize with those they are leading as well as those they are serving to discern how others might be feeling, and how to make a change that addresses those feelings.

Good leaders reject passivity.

“One of the most dangerous temptations we face when we’re working for someone else is passivity.” When you lack authority, you feel like you also lack control. Lacking control makes you feel like you can’t contribute to change. But good leaders don’t live in a state of passivity to the situations around them, regardless of their official organizational authority. Good leaders look for ways to contribute within their current level of authority.

“One of the most dangerous temptations we face when we’re working for someone else is passivity.”

Clay Scroggins

you are called to lead well.

Whether you have a good leader above you or not, you are called to lead well. Clay Scroggins’ final section of his book deals with leading up. Most of us are not at the top of our organizations. I would assume that if you’ve read this book, or if you’re still reading this blog post, you are not at the top of your organization.

You’re someone who wants to know how you can leverage your influence inappropriate and healthy ways to contribute to the future of your team. You’re someone who wants to know how to grow in your leadership right now, rather than waiting for someone else to hand you leadership.

If that is you, this book will offer some practical tips, along with some funny stories, that will get your creative juices flowing in how you can see yourself growing in your leadership.

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Drew S Williams

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