Book Review: The Go-Giver Leader

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Book Reviews

With so many great books and teachings on leadership already out there you might ask what another one, The Go-Giver Leader, could possibly add. Already familiar with the work of Bob Burg and John David Mann, notably The Go-Giver, I knew this would be a good read.

And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a story about a previously successful furniture manufacturer at a crossroads, struggling in a tough economy and facing foreign competition, and a cash-flow crisis. Its protagonist is Ben, an ambitious young executive trying to lead them to a crucial decision. What unfolds is Ben’s journey to understanding that the path to genuine influence lies less in taking leadership than in giving it. This premise builds on one of the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success in The Go-Giver – The Law of Influence–  which states that Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first – and for some it can feel counter-intuitive. Hence the power of story to bring it to life.

So how does that work then? What does ‘increasing your own influence by giving it away’ look like?

Well much as I would like to ‘give away’ the answer, that would be hardly fair to the authors! And anyway, by doing that I would be denying you the value you will get from reading the book. That said, I would like to share a few nuggets that stand out for me:

Build Your People

One of Ben’s Keys to Legendary Leadership is ‘Build Your People’. He learns that “People have all sorts of amazing qualities and natural abilities trapped inside them. With the wood, it’s knowing how to apply heat. With people, it’s applying your belief.” This really resonates with me as too often we underestimate the skills and talents of our people. Conversely when we get it right, as demonstrated recently in the UK by a TV Documentary Employable Me, the results can be miraculous.

Authenticity Counts

There is a point in the story when Ben begins to doubt himself and the value he adds. He struggles to answer the question “What do you really have to offer them?’” For me this is real. We all go through phases like this and can be distracted looking for the answer ‘out there’ with the so-called experts. I’m certainly up for continuous personal and professional development, but sometimes we fail to recognize that we already have what we need. Ben’s vulnerability at this point, his willingness to share his insecurities, brings the message home very powerfully. Good leaders are approachable: their authenticity enhances their ability to influence.

Leadership Is A Way Of Being

“Giving leadership is a leadership style, but also more than that. It’s a way of being.” This is probably my favourite quote from the book. It sends an important message that leadership is not about the position that you hold, it’s about the opportunities you have to influence, to inspire and empower others, and, wherever possible, to be a catalyst for others to grow and achieve their potential.

Reflection Questions:

  • What are you seeking ‘out there’ which you may in fact already possess?
  • What does leadership mean to you? How else could you embrace it?
  • What natural abilities might be trapped inside your staff, colleagues and loved ones?


Find out more about the work Clare McNamara does with leaders and their teams on influence and authenticity.

© Move Ahead Global 2016

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  • Bob Burg
    Posted at 13:13h, 27 April Reply

    Claire, thank you so much for your very kind and amazing post regarding John David Mann’s and my new book. I’m very deeply honoured to know that you enjoyed it, and very impressed by how elegantly you stated the meaning you received from it.. Again, many, many thanks!

    • Clare McNamara
      Posted at 13:36h, 27 April Reply

      Bob I am so glad you liked the review and I appreciate you taking the time to let me know. When is the sequel coming out?!

  • Bob Burg
    Posted at 14:24h, 27 April Reply

    🙂 🙂 Nothing planned right now…but one never knows! 😉

    • Clare McNamara
      Posted at 15:50h, 27 April Reply

      Oh good, you’ve left me with some hope!

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