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

Thursday, January 10th

Moving forward, and especially while I’m deployed I’ll be writing reviews of the books I read, both for myself and for those looking for a book review. I would certainly recommend this book and would say it’s one of the best I’ve read in the last few of years. Let me know if you have any recommendations for a better review or any questions. Enjoy!


Part 1 – Understanding Our Challenges

Chapter 1 – The oddity of Leadership

  • Lack of authority isn’t an excuse to blame others. Leveraging influence is far more effective then leveraging authority.

“Influence always outpaces authority. And leaders who consistently leverage their authority to lead are far less effective in the long term than leaders who leverage their influence.”

Chapter 2 – Identify Crises

  • I need to be willing to stand upon my identity/passport (don’t pick an identity to fit what I think people want).
  • I need to be willing to lose my standing at any time.
  • God actually controls my career, what place does fear have in my life?
  • In fear we miss opportunities to lead.

“He loves you perfectly. He accepts you unconditionally. Lead like you believe this to be true.”

Chapter 3 – Reclaim Kibosh

  • God is the one to establish authority and Adam was simply responsible stewardship leader.
  • Get behind people and have ambition to be the best in whatever role I’m in, while glorifying God.

“This act set in motion the evolution of kabash to kibosh, from responsible stewardship of our ambitions for God’s glory into a selfish negativity that seeks only what is best for me and mine.”

Part 2 – The Four Behaviors

Chapter 4 – Lead Yourself

  • Leading myself requires me monitoring the dark corners of my heart where dangerous emotions lie. See Psalms 139:23-24.

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does on a day-to-day basis to lead himself.”

Chapter 5 – Choose Positivity

  • Find the satisfaction, value, and meaning in whichever role I’m in and try to see how I fit into the big picture of things.
  • Be positive on outlook. See what I can change and not get down on what I can’t.
  • Do I communicate that I’m serving in the military because I was called? “I am in chains for Christ.” Phil 1:12-13.
  • Have humility and when I’m ready, my time will come.

“Don’t let the frustration you feel over what you don’t have keep you from doing what you can do. Changing your perspective on your situation can change everything. Seeing what you do have will allow you to overcome what you don’t.”

Chapter 6 – Think Critically

  • Stop thinking as an employee. Start thinking as an owner.
  • Stop stacking my meetings. Start scheduling thinking meetings.
  • Stop being critical (these people want you to lose). Start thinking critically (these are great critical thinkers who want you to win).
  • Stop giving others a grade. Start lending them a hand.

“Keep your blood pressure as low as possible when communicating feedback. If you can’t talk about it without getting emotional, you’re not ready to talk about it.”

Chapter 7 – Reject Passivity

  • “Don’t let it beat cha! Don’t let it beat cha!” (Don’t settle and quit!!)
  • Be willing to add on responsibility, because that’s going above and beyond.
  • Never present just a problem, always bring a plan for the solution.

“I didn’t fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb.”

Part 3 – Challenging Authority

Chapter 8 – Challenging Up

  • Without challenge, we do not change. Challenge brings change, and change is inherently challenging.
  • Don’t take it personally if someone makes changes to how I’ve been doing things. Study what they do and learn from their improvements.
  • “Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.”
  • You want to challenge with enough emotional intelligence to avoid blaming someone for what’s currently being done.
  • Remember: how well you challenge will determine how much you change.

“Great leaders don’t get defensive… Great leaders challenge up with the best motives.” (We don’t resist change either.)

Chapter 9 – Breaking Down Challenging Up

  • “Be convinced that God put your boss in their position.” I need to convince myself of this in the military hierarchy.
  • “Bring up disagreements when emotions are low.” So true!
  • “Champion publicly. Challenge privately.” Damn!
  • “Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
  • “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
  • When one calls a boss or anyone for that matter, what does that person first think immeidately when they see I’m calling?

“The most common behavior in every great marriage is the decision to believe the best about the other person… Find the most generous explanation for each other’s behavior and believe it.”

Chapter 10 – Your Next Chapter Starts Today

  • “What do you want people to say about you when you are finally in charge?” It would be: Caring, confident and open to learning new ideas.
  • “Began leading from where you are.” I don’t need authority to be given for me to be hardworking or attentive.
  • “If Jesus didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be used to his advantage, then why should we think we can throw around our authority to get what we want?” Reminder, use influence and be a servant!
  • “As now, so then.” What I am now, I will be then.
  • “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” – John 13:35. This should be my top priority each day!

“The same reputation you have without power stays with you when you do have power and authority.”

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Clay Scroggins

  1. Love hearing your summation on the book! A positive mindset makes for a successful person and a peaceful heart. Will look forward to future recaps!

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I had the grand ambition of two books a month while on this deployment… That’s not happening, sadly. Appreciate your encouragement! Miss y’all!

  2. Hi Luke- Happy March!!!! Just wanted to check in and tell you how hard Lauren is working to get through the Broker Class. She hasn’t been to the Lake in a month and that is a record for her! HAHA
    Good timing for her though as it’s been raining since the beginning of February!!! UGGHHH
    My business is in full spring mode and getting very busy which is a good thing. I’m sure Lauren told you we Closed on the Lakehouse-buying the McIsaacs out and now own it ourselves. Can’t wait to have you up when you return. Fall is the most beautiful time and it’s quiet on the water because most people take their boats out of the water. We’ll plan lots of fun outings on your return so take extra good care of yourself. We miss you and are praying for you (several times a day)!!! Love and hugs, Lisa

    1. We could rave on that woman for days without pause, I’m so proud of her!! She did, I’m so excited for y’all and love the stairs to the lake upgrade y’all are doing! I’ll certainly stay safe and can’t wait for all the times ahead at the lake with all three of you. God bless and know that I’m praying for you and Gary. Time is ticking down!! – LC

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