Sharma, R. (2010). The leader who had no title: a modern fable on real success in business and in life. Simon and Schuster

This book on leadership is written in the form of a story. It has six characters, a hero, his mentor and the four teachers. The story starts with the hero named Blake Davis and written in narration form by Blake. He was born in Milwaukee and lived in New York. His Parents was killed which change his whole life. He loses him all confidence. He used to do a job just to pay a bill and to have food. There is no hope and charm in his life. Then he joined the army and served in the Iraq war but after his deployment, he turns back to civilian life. He had a great love for books, so he joined a book shop. Even then he was not satisfied.

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One Monday morning while doing his work an old man named Tommy Flinn tapped his shoulder who has recently transferred to this branch by his own will. He was strangely dressed having Mickey Mouse handkerchief in his pocket and a necklace engraved LWT on it in his neck. Blake Davis narrates that he greets me, and I came to know that he was a friend of my father and knows a lot about me. As I was disappointed, he wants to develop courage in me and wants to teach me leadership qualities. He told me that in this changing environment new technology comes every day and to keep pace with it there is need of developing the leadership talent in every single person throughout the organization no matter whatever he is in position. It is of no concern that you have any rank or title everyone must act themselves as a part of the leadership team.


We must play our role and responsibility in being our place. So, in an organization, everyone should show leadership, drive innovation, be positive, giving their absolute best, take responsibility and embraced change. Tommy cleared me that it does not mean that organizations should not have titles they are there to set the mission and the vision but in this changing era, everyone should take the responsibility by becoming CEO of his own role and leads within the current position. We all have inner leaders who don’t need any formal title. Anyone can drive change and take initiative. Once you awaken your inner leader exercise it every day and you will feel stronger and better day by day. I was much impressed with Tommy and know what real leadership is all about. The restaurant is the only place where we have food first and then we have to pay the price but in success, you have to pay the price first and get rewards afterward. Money is important but is only the by-product of standard and doing SEW (Seriously exceptional work). He invites me to take two other four teachers who will teach the philosophy of LWT.


On one Saturday morning, we met in a graveyard as arranged by Tommy at 5.00 am. He handed over the LWT necklace to me and told me that it stands for LEAD WITHOUT A TITLE. He continued that getting early in the morning is one of the best practices of leaders without a title because there is much time to sleep once you are dead. Getting earlier gives us extra time for our efficiency. There are two grave digs by Tommy. He told that graves fascinate him and show how life is short. He told me to pull out a tablet from one grave.

And asked me to read out “10 Human Regrets” written on it. These are:

1-You reach your last day with the song your life wants to sing but could not.

2- You reach your last day without ever experienced to do great work.

3- You reach your last day without inspiring anyone.

4- You reach your last day without taking any risk and reward.

5- You reach your last day without being mastery.

6- You reach your last day without having transformational adversity.

7- You reach your last day without doing helpful work to others.

8- You reach your last day without living a life of your choice and forced by society.

9- You reach your last day without touching the absolute best and genius you build to become.

10- You reach the last day that you can lead but you failed and waste time.

Then he gave me a shovel to dig another tablet from the other grave. I dig a little more and dig out a golden tablet. It has written “10 Human Victories”. I read out them as.

1-You, reach your end realizing that you used your talent, best resources, and potential in your work.

2- You reach your end realizing that you maintained a standard throughout your life.

3- You reach your end that you faced your fears and realized your highest vision.

4- You reach your end take in that you built people rather than tore them.

5- You reach your end that you are not knocked by optimism.

6- You reach your end take in your achievements and your serving to people.

7- You reach your end and having strong ethical, inspirational and emphatic person.

8- You reach your end and you are genuine innovator.

9- You reach your end and you are the rock star, the hero and legend to the customer.

10- You reach your end and your life was a true model of LWT philosophy.




Tommy takes me to one of the best hotels where I met my first teacher named Anna. She teaches me the 1st principle that you need no title to be a leader. I told her about my disappointment before I met Tommy who change my life. Anna told me she also has many reasons for disappointment. she is only a housekeeper here and cleans the rooms, but it is up to the man that how he or she views his or her role. Her parents were died in an accident. She was very poor, but she makes herself rich into love literature, great music beautiful art and besides all this her job. Management is very satisfied with my work and sends me for extra training courses. What society things about me is none of my interest the important is how I see my self and know the value of my work and this make my job meaningful to me, it is the way that a leader with out the title philosophy do his work. Title do have power until you have those titles when they gone you have no power. Put yourself in to the shoes of your customers and buyers and you will know that what exactly they demand. Small daily improvements lead to shining results day by day.

Then she told me the acronym of IMAGE:

 I- stand for innovation, without innovation life is dead. Keeping pace with change is life.

M-stands for Mastery, Mastery in your craft, in everything you do. If you deliver at your best leadership even if you have no title you cannot be forgotten by people. Anna encourage Blake to be FMOB (being the first, the most, the only and the best). The starting point of mastery is to set expectation for yourself, make commitments to be first, the most and the only one. Set some standards for your self; expect much from yourself than other. Be BIW (Best in world) in your work. Doing job is not fore mere paying bills but the way to access your leadership. Daily ripples of excellence become a tsunami of success.

A-Stand for authenticity, it’s all about the realization of all power and potencies with in you and knowing about your geniuses. The LWT philosophy rejects the old notion of authority and impression of title at all. It is all about what you are.

G- Stands for guts, you need no title, but you need guts and toughness in any organization. The more you leave your comfort zone the more obstacles hinder your ways. Your competitor tries to knock out you, but your guts keep you there.

E- Stands for ethics, ethics are totally forgotten these days but is the core value of Leaders without title. Nothing is good than your values and protection of your good name. It’s all about reputation. The leader without title never loses his integrity. People spend their lives to get reputation but losses it by making a single bad decision. Then we thanked Anna and I promised to make this ideal a reality in my life.



We went to a small shop named “The Ty Sloan Ski Shop” to meet my second teacher. He was a Skiing Champion and a ski instructor now a day and sell ski equipment’s. He starts with the 2nd principle of LWT philosophy that turbulent times build great leaders. He told me that today is a changing environment, systems keep changes, operations changes. If we cannot face change, we will be obsolete. He gave me the metaphor of ski diving everything seems easy at the top when you pass through the mountains you got hinders and unpaved paths but if you get through this tough. The tough will pass away. The true ability is how you ski on hard times and hard ones. A ski diver must change his technique when changes needed. Same as in any organizations, difficult times awake your inner leader and change is a good thing. Most people shed themselves in their shells when tough times come. The brave eats their fear before their fear eats them and when you go to your limits your limits expands. Moreover, always keep an eye on your deficiencies. No discomfort means no growth.

He teaches me an acronym of SPARK.

S-stands for speak with candor. Leader without title must be inspirational communicator.

Listening and communicating properly prevents rumor and gossip. Words have power. Leaders without title never gossip not condemn never swear and never complaint.

P-stands for prioritize, focus on best and neglect all rest. I recommend you write out your daily five. They must be on your core priorities and remember 80/20 rule i.e. 80%of your result come from 20% of your achievements.

A-stands for Adversity breeds opportunity, when one door closes another opens and crisis contain exceptional opportunities. Adversity is a tool for achievement and success. Secondly KMF (Keep move forward) is necessary.

R-stands for respond versus react, when tough times comes respond versus react. Take initiative and go together. Initiative and hard work leads to success.

K-stands for kudos, means inspired and uplifting appraise even for minute things. Leaders without title always encourage the efforts of others and look for what is good in people and appreciate them. I was really impressed and feeling a big change in my thoughts.



We went to a public library in New York. My third teacher was a former CEO of a multibillion-dollar technology firm and now he is a gardener and his name is Jackson. His principle was “The deeper your relationship the stronger your leadership”. The main thing in business is connecting people and adds value to them. The stronger the bond between you, your teammates and your customers the stronger the relationship it is. To develop relationship with your customer huge patience is needed. you need to nurture your connections. As in gardening from seeds to a fruitful tree you need to nurture them, and huge amount of patience is needed. As you sow so shall you reap. Same case is in the organizations the largest the dream the more important the team. As Isaac Newton said

“If I have seen more than others it’s because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” What you are is all because of people you work with.

Then he told me his acronym is HUMAN

H-stands for helpfulness, be helpful to everyone in the organization is the main value of the leader without a title.

U-stands for understand, speak less listen more. Leader without titles is being a great listener. We must leave the old notion of speaking and ordering leadership. Now leadership is about listening.

M-Mingle, means to mix together with teammates and your customer. You got extra ordinary result if you mingle with the people you do business. Have coffee with your stakeholder and lunches with your customers.

A-Amuse, we think work as serious, but it is also a bit playful at right time. And we feel amuse as unproductive and wasteful thing. Enjoying at work, lesser the stress of the employee.

N-stands for nurturing. Nurturing means to get better relationship with your customers day by day. Take care of people and the money will take care itself. People are really most important element of a winning business.



Finally, we were in “Amber Spa and Wellness Centre” to meet my last and fourth teacher. His name is Jet Brisley and working as a massager therapist. He teaches me the 4th principle of LWT. i.e. To be a great leader, first become a great person. As a therapist it is not possible to make another feel good about themselves until you are feeling good yourself, he started. In an organization if you awaken your inner leader and play best, your company will automatically rise to its absolute best. First lead yourself then you will be able to leads others. Develop self-awareness first. Many people are rich, but they are not happy they are poor. Poverty is not only having no money but scarcity of anything is poverty. If your character is weak and your self-respect is low, you cannot lead others.

My acronym is SHINE:

S-stands for see clearly, Leadership must do much with perceiving others. We see the word not as it is but as we are.

H-stands for Health is Wealth, it deals with the importance of physical heath when we are young, we sacrifice our health for wealth but when we become old we are willing to sacrifice every bit of our wealth for health.

I-stands for inspiration, a day with out feeling inspired is a day that you haven’t lived.

N-stands for neglect not your family, your loved on matters a lot your family, your friends and your social setup.

E-stands for elevate your lifestyle; improve your lifestyle. A beautiful lifestyle is a beautiful thing to experience.

Leader with out a title thinks more about his legacy every single day, they think about how they want to be remembered than they are no longer alive, and I hoped you learned much about LWT philosophy.


I never met my mentor again as he died of cancer. I met the four teachers on his funeral he gave me a letter in which he reminds me my promise to share all this LWT philosophy to as many people as I can.

Reviewed By

Sobia Sultana

Lecturer, Department of Public Administration

Lahore College for Women University, Lahore

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Sobia sultana

Lecturer, Department of Public Administration Lahore College for Women University, Lahore, Pakistan

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