5 Ways to be a Leader – and Only One Requires a Title

by Jennifer Miller on September 24, 2015

in Book Review, Leadership

 co_active leadership quote

Everyone has the capacity to lead.

Not everyone agrees with this statement. In fact, it’s a hotly contested debate on many leadership blogs.

I believe it.

I believed it when I helped co-author The Character-Based Leader in 2012. And I believe it more with each passing day, especially as I coach my kids in their daily endeavors.

Now, a book has come along that succinctly summarizes what it means to be a leader—in five distinctly different, yet important ways. This week, the book Co-Active Leadership: Five Ways to Lead launched. It’s the perfect response to people who think that leadership belongs only to a special few.

The authors, Karen and Henry Kimsey-House, co-authored one of my all-time favorite books, Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives, along with Laura Whitworth, who passed away in 2007. Whitworth and the Kimsey-Houses are co-founders of the Coaching Training Institute (CTI). But you don’t have to be a personal coach or an executive coach to use this book.

The book presents a very simple, easy-to-understand model of leadership. According to the authors there are five ways to lead:

  • The Leader Within
  • The Leader Beside
  • The Leader in Front
  • The Leader Behind
  • The Leader in the Field

Only one of their leadership “dimensions” listed above typically has a formal title – “The Leader in Front.” The authors write that everyone, at some point, has the opportunity to decide to act out one of these leadership dimensions and title rarely has anything to do with the decision. It’s more about wanting to be “responsible for your world” than being in charge. “Decide” is the operative word here. As with most coaching models, personal choice plays a big role in the conceptual construct of their model.

The five-factor model is extremely easy to understand and apply to all aspects of one’s life. The authors give detailed examples of the five leadership dimensions in action. They draw from the business world, the educational sector, community activities and family life to bring this leadership model to life.

The thing that I liked most about this book is that they show what leadership without a title looks like. Many have said “everyone can be a leader,” but few have specifically shown us how. Karen and Henry Kimsey-House demonstrate, through their clients’ and coaches’ stories, exactly what behaviors comprise each of the five dimensions of leadership.

Readers will be encouraged by these examples because they are drawn from everyday occurrences that all of us can relate to. This book is a very quick read and one that will help you re-think what it means to lead. Pick up a copy today.


Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for review purposes. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you click the link, I may receive a small commission on the purchase. I only review materials that I think will benefit my readers.

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