It’s Not About You

Summary by Peggy Letizio – Instructor, School for Family and MWR
Burg, B. and Mann, J. D. (2011). It’s not about you. Penguin Group. New York, NY.

It’s Not About You

The parable, “It’s Not About You,” by Bob Burg and John David Mann (2011) tells a story of what really matters most in business. It conveys a powerful message as we follow Ben, an up and coming new manager who is tasked to persuade a small manufacturer to agree to a merger with a larger company to get them out of their financial despair.

Along the way Ben seeks advice from an old friend who introduces him to Aunt Elle, her mentor. Over the course of a week Ben meets with each of the four top executives in an effort to influence their vote to his side.  After each of these meetings, he gets together with Aunt Elle who teaches him about the power of influence and positive persuasion. She teaches him that “pull” rather than “push” is the substance of influence and the more you yield the more power you have.  As the week progresses, Ben comes away with different leadership lessons and reflects on his own experiences. With this new knowledge Ben creates his “manifesto” and discovers what it takes to be a leader; from this newfound knowledge he developed the Keys to Legendary Leadership:

1) Hold the vision:

  • Lead with your mind.
  • Anyone can come up with a vision. The hard part is the holding.
  • Never forget where you came from.
  • Watch your personal pronouns

2) Build your people

  • Lead with your mind.
  • The more you yield, the more power you have.
  • Tact is the language of strength.
  • Don’t react – respond.

3) Do the work

  • Lead from your gut.
  • Stay hugely humble.
  • Stay grounded.
  • Trust yourself.

4) Stand for something

  • Lead with your soul
  • Competence matters. Character matters more.
  • Character is what happens when life scratches itself on your soul
  • You can lead only as far as you grow. You will grow only as far as you let yourself.

5) Share the mantle

  • Let others lead.
  • It’s not about you…it’s about them.
  • Don’t get it backward: don’t start thinking you’re the deal.
  • The best way to increase your influence is to give it away.

As the Aunt Elle put it, “Leadership is not something you can put on and take off, like a set of clothes. Your capacity to influence is not something you can rehearse, like a speech in a play” (Burg & Mann, 2011, p. 159).

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