A Blog by John Bossong

12 Leadership Insights That Will Change The Way You Lead


Billy walked into the Jason’s office with several questions.  In one week he would take the reigns and run the organization.   He would be the new CEO.  Jason was stepping down.

This was his last opportunity to speak with the outgoing CEO before the transition.  Billy relaxed.  He wanted to remember everything.  He wanted to give the CEO as much time as possible to answer each question thoroughly.

Jason entered the office and gave Billy one piece of paper.  “Billy, I want you to write down the 12 things I’m about to tell you.”

“When we are done, I want you to file these 12 leadership insights away.  Reflect on them several times a year.   These will be your foundation.   Everything you do will always come back to these 12 things.”

“The first insight is….”

People and People

Without great people leaders are nothing.  The people you lead are why you lead.  It’s not an either or thing.

Leadership is about your people.  Turn around often.  Look.  If you don’t see people following you are not leading.

Right and Wrong

Focus on catching people doing things right.  Accentuate the positive.  What behaviors do you want repeated?  Go find people doing those things and reward them.  Tell them thank you.  Write them a note.  Do it in front of their peers.


Be a values driven leader.  Have a purpose other than our profit maximization.  Profit is great, but it needs to be a result of our higher purpose.   Live the values of the organization.  Model them.  Don’t sacrifice them for anything.

Great Advice

  1. Take care of your people first.
  2. They will take care of our customers.
  3. Be driven by serving rather than being served.
  4. Earn respect and trust – forget power and authority.
  5. Be positive – crawl before you walk, walk before you dance.

Do this every day.

Try These Out

  1. Be a visionary leader – set high standards for your people and yourself?
  2. Communicate our vision – lead by example – talk about the vision all the time.
  3. Implement your plan – day by day.
  4. Practice humility – give credit to others for success and take responsibility for failures.
  5. Grow and develop other leaders – care about other people enough to make them better.
  6. Be a great listener – care even more.
  7. Empower your people  -  Let them bring their brains to work.  Let them make decisions.  Let them fail.  Let the values of the organization guide their decisions not fear.

Today and Next Year

Here’s what Lou Holtz says is the difference:

  1. What you learn – the books you read.
  2. The relationships you build – the people you meet.
  3. The goals you set – the dreams you dream.

Common Ground

All great leaders have these in common:

  1. Trust – their people trust them, you will have to earn this, it won’t be given to you.
  2. Commitment to a higher purpose.
  3. Care about their people and the organization more than themselves.

Two S’s

  1. Success – $
  2. Significance – helping others succeed.

Popularity Contest

If you want to be popular, don’t take this job.  It’s not popular.

Flip the pyramid and choose leadership over popularity.

The Sponge

Learn why other leaders are successful.  Read.  Read again.  Read some more.  Work on your self-development.  Be better tomorrow than you were today.  Be better today than you were yesterday.

Soak everything up.

What’s in A Name?

Focus on making people better.  Titles are handed out from above.  Leaders come from below.  Serving.  Washing feet and getting things done.

Titles are for business cards.  Most wind up in a desk drawer.

Have A Story

Learn to tell (communicate) your story.  You must be able to communicate the organization’s vision for success.  What does it look like?  What does success look and feel like?  Communicate a day-to-day plan.  People need to know you care and resonate with your story.

That’s it Billy.  Always come back to these 12 insights.  Most problems or issues you have will eventually lead back to one of these insights.

Billy left the office.   None of his questions were answered but he realized every question he wanted to ask came back to the 12 insights.

What other insights would you add to this list? 


  1. Hosea Lidovho says:

    Fantastic information!

  2. Lou Venezia says:

    Good stuff!

  3. Amen brother! These need to be part of a book or published to get out to thousands! Appreciate what you have put into text the things in which I have thought and practiced so much…

  4. Paul Roche says:

    Courage should be added. The courage to challenge people to be better and confront problems quicly should never be underestimated. Excellent advice by the way, by far the bestI have seen for a long time.

    • Paul,

      Great addition. I like it. I agree. Courage is a great trait for a leader. All the great ones have it. It can be a quiet courage as well. Thanks for the comment.

      Take care,

  5. Equilla Miller says:

    Leadership is definitely not a popularity contest. I used to be surprised by how easily people got upset with me for trying to run a ” ministry leadership” program with integrity. Example holding people accountable. It’s difficult on their flesh & demands growth. Inturn many get upset with (me) a leader, which requires my growth to deal with it in love. Good article.

    • Equilla,

      You are right. Leading certainly isn’t a popularity contest. Great to hear you deal with the issues through love. That’s awesome and a great leadership trait.

      Take care

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