How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Clay Scroggins

This book was a pretty great one. The whole book was centered around the Bible and Jesus and His leadership on earth. This is the leadership that I want to model myself after — the leadership of Jesus, the greatest leader to ever walk the earth. More than that, this book focused on our identity in Christ. We were all created to be incredible individuals and we all are leaders; some of us lead more people than others. Yet, we all have influence, and that’s what leadership is.

This is something to live by 100%. I live by the parable of the three servants from the book of Matthew. If you can be trusted with little, you can be trusted with much.

If you fail to cultivate influence when you are not in charge, you will have no influence leverage when you are. Influence always outpaces authority.

Who are you? Who am I? Who are we? I think these 5 things are the best way to look at our identity and what it means to be who we are. I believe that these are all essential to understand and it’s important to become well attuned to all aspects of ourself.

5 basic components of identity:

1. Past, list 5 highs and 5 lows from the past and mark them chronologically
2. People, who are the loudest voices speaking into our lives and who should be the loudest voices?
3. Personality, how are you wired? Can use Strengthsfinder, MBTI, or something else also.
4. Purpose, there is a higher meaning and deeper reason for your life, what has God said about why you exist?
5. Priorities, most important beliefs, values, aspirations, and passions. This is self-determination.
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A winning team can lose in the wrong environment. That is why the most successful people are also generally the most disciplined people. If we can control our attitude, our actions will improve.

“There is not anything directly under my control that can have a more powerful impact on others than the attitude I choose. The greatest benefit I bring my team is not my talents, gifts, experience or education, it’s my energy.” — Clay Scroggins

Amen. It’s important to be positive but at the same time, we cannot be unrealistic or we will have plans that will likely fail. It’s important to understand the various potential outcomes and then plan and attack.

Positivity all the time in isolation will drive you and those around you crazy, you are wired to be a realist. That’s why we need to couple positivity with the skill of thinking critically.

This is something I’ve always kind of subconsciously done. It’s just happened. I’ll be observing something or be present somewhere and just keep noticing things that I would improve upon if it were my event or gig or whatever it might be. While everyone does things differently, I strive to maintain a keen awareness of the people surrounding me.

Clay’s boss, Andy Stanley, tells the crowd during a conference they host at their church, they probably have two sets of notes. One for what they’re learning and another for what they’d do differently if this were their conference. That’s what critical thinking leaders do, and you can hardly turn it off, you’ll always be looking for ways to make things better and do things better, that’s what leaders do.

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Amen. It’s all about results and getting it done. Action action action.

Taking initiative us one of the most important ways to lead when you’re not in charge. Pick up and complete what everyone else has put down and placed aside for someone else to do.

Love this. As someone who wants to do more and truly become a leader, these two things are entirely essential. Usually the higher-ups are busier than we are. Whatever is needed: Get. It. Done.

If stuck in passivity:

1. What has my boss established as the greatest win for our team. If they could wave a magic wand and have something done, what would it be? What is your boss most worried about? What is creating stress and how can you relieve that?
2. What are the frequently discussed problems? What actions can you take today to solve those problems?

Action action action. As Grant Cardone says,

“Knowledge speaks. Wisdom listens. Action wins.” — Grant Cardone
“You will never passively find what you do not actively pursue.” — Tim Cooper

Choose, plan, and respond, using Clay’s CPR method to make use of the time God has given because what we’re doing now matters greatly.

Isn’t this true. My current boss just wants results. And from what I’ve seen, the standard practice obtains respectable results so while he does not love it, it’s better than an unproven method. If there’s a better way, better show some data!

There are two things your boss hates, “change, and the way things are.”

We always have a choice, even if it’s not easy to execute on.

Building walls or bridges within teams:

Constantly comparing your team or company to another is like comparing your spouse to a past relationship.
Speaking with definitive statements builds walls and creates distance.
Blaming others builds walls.
Ultimatums build walls.
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Say it louder, say it louder, say it louder. We MUST swallow our pride. I’ve been yelled at, ridiculed, and straight up embarrassed in workplaces; but that cannot change my response. I will challenge PRIVATELY only.

Challenge privately
Champion publicly

Communicate why the way is better, show it, prove it, execute it, pioneer it, prove it, and prove it again. People might not understand, but we must keep pushing until they do — we have a way to make the status quo better!

The most powerful reason to challenge the status quo is to make it better. Not everyone will agree on what defines better, it’s our responsibility to communicate that. Find the why. Ask why and why and why again.


Leadership is not saying, “what can you do to make me look better?” It’s saying, “what can I do to make you look better?” Use influence to help others reach their full potential.

Learn from everyone and everything. Every single interaction is important to me and while I cannot do everything perfectly, I know that I can do everything well and learn for the next time.

The BEST leaders are learners. You can learn how to lead and how not to lead.

Do any of these jump out at you? For me it is the belief or criticism shared by multiple people one. If multiple people are saying the same thing, we better pay attention — those are only the people who verbally believe or notice said thing. Everything else is entirely biblical and I love it. Jesus followed all of these things and that is precisely where the author got this model which validates it so much more for me.

As a leader:

Do value everything, especially if contrary to your perspective.
Do compliment others and express that their work is valuable and important.
Do lead by action first and words second.
Do express expectations and make sure those around you know what you want and need from them.
Do be efficient with tasks and effective with people.
Don’t undervalue the intern.
Don’t ignore the belief or criticism shared by more than one person.
Don’t take the people who are doing the dirty work for granted.
Don’t schedule meetings without a goal or purpose.
Don’t act as if you’re better than anyone, even if you are.
Don’t undervalue the time others are putting in to make your job easier.

Love this. The power of compounding. “The measure you extend unto others will be given unto you also.” Little by little, day by day. Our tomorrow is created by our today.

Clay lives by 4 words, “as now so then.”

He wrote, “as you are leading now so you will be leading then.”

Leadership is about doing everything you can while you are where you are. Jesus was the best leader ever because He loved people. We are called to love the people that we lead.

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This book was insightful and taught me a lot about leadership and also what the Bible says about it. I look to the Bible for nearly everything in life and the fact that the author used the Bible as the centerpiece for the whole book made it that much better for me. After the completion of this one, I saw that this author has published another book, How to Lead in a World of Distraction, and that is now one of the next that I’m going to work through. I’ll be interested in seeing how that changes, I anticipate it to focus more on the timing of leading rather than the human aspect of leading, we will see.

I gave this book a 4/5

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