A Blog by John Bossong

Extreme Leadership

Would you consider yourself extreme? Different? Weird? Not normal? Have you ever done something so out of the ordinary that heads turned? People said you were crazy for trying it, whatever “it” is.

You can’t live debt free, much less operate a business that way. Extreme. Author and financial expert Dave Ramsey has proven it’s possible and thousands upon thousands have proven him right. Extreme because debt is normal in our society and debt free is extreme or weird.  Extreme wins. Extreme changes lives. Extreme leads.

Extreme is different. Not crazy different but paradigm shifting different. There’s no way a phone can be a mini-computer. A device that changes the way people work and communicate. Extreme but real.



Extreme communicates in 140 characters.

Extreme creates 6 second video clips to communicate (Vine).

Extreme videos a hangout (google+ hangouts).

Extreme creates a job and doesn’t wait for one, as author Seth Godin says, pick yourself.

Extreme delivers happiness but sells shoes on line (Zappos).

Extreme makes buying coffee an experience.


The real question is are you willing to be different. Non-traditional. Paradigm shifting different.

Some examples:

  • Leading with humility not power and authority.
  • Modeling the values of the organization rather than hanging them on the wall.
  • Holding your people accountable.
  • Providing transparency.
  • Leading with love and care not fear.
  • Building trust, delegating and letting your people solve problems.
  • Admitting you don’t have all the answers.

Former  chairman and CEO of General Electric Jack Welch says if you want to move the needle you need to be extreme.

Was it extreme to think every home would have a computer 25 years ago? Probably. Was it extreme 10 years ago to think you would hold a device in your hand and use it as a phone and communication agent? Probably.

Extreme challenges. Extreme is different. Extreme wins.

How can you be extreme and lead?



  1. Extremity, might have many meanings, dear John, as you point out, but usually is misunderstood for not conformity. Many leaders try to achieve their goals, trying, the most of times, to follow more conventional approaches, without results. Also many “out-of-normal” approached based leaders, using their special characteristics and skills have not always the required or intended results. It is my believe that as a leader you should combine normal, extreme and personal characteristics, traits and skills in a formula that you should try in your environment and would provide required results. Other than that, is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Takis,

      Thanks for your great comments and insights. I agree, extreme does have many meanings you could associate with it. For this article, I was referring to different, non-traditional, etc. I like your thought of combining the normal, extreme and personal characteristics. It makes sense and I think it’s a good way to lead. Thanks for the great thoughts and comments.

      Take care,

  2. I believe I can be extreme by creating a leadership podcast. To move from pharmacist based wages and to business which has no limits.

  3. Shane Murphy says:


    I found Takis’ comment on being seen as a “non-conformist” to be interesting. I tend to skew on the side of extreme in the majority of my work, mixed with a dose of normalcy to satisfy that conformity requirement. What I’m continuing to learn is that my desire for extreme has shut me out unless I strike the right balance. It’s about creating the environment that what may seem extreme gains momentum as others latch on – which is what I love about your initial post (and why social is so awesome). It sparks conversation, which drives ideas and all of a sudden, extreme looks… like a viable option.

    Took me a while to begin to dissect the absolute power of social. It seemed extreme and nonsensical to me. 140 characters? Extreme? Not anymore!

    Thanks for sharing and thanks for leading!

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