Summary of Time to Lead

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Time to Lead book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


History’s most effective leaders leveraged one or more of seven important leadership styles, according to marketing professor Jan-Benedict Steenkamp. In this entertaining and engaging book, he cites exceptional leaders, from Machiavelli to Martin Luther King Jr., to explore these different corporate leadership styles. He discusses George Washington’s rare decency in building a nation, Franklin Roosevelt’s deceptiveness in getting Americans to do the right thing and Margaret Thatcher’s toughness. These sketches, along with Steenkamp’s quizzes and exercises, can help you discover your most legendary leadership style.

About the Author

Dutch-American Professor Jan-Benedict Steenkamp teaches marketing at the University of North Carolina and runs AiMark, a global market strategy research and consulting firm.


Good leaders adapt to changing circumstances.

Great leaders align their behavior to fulfill their beliefs and values. They continually learn and grow, as they inspire others to achieve a shared vision, goal or mission. They satisfy followers who demand capable, caring leaders and they demonstrate trust in order to earn it.

History’s most effective leaders tend, like hedgehogs, to focus single-mindedly on a vision, demonstrating tremendous resilience and perseverance. Like foxes, they understand their limits and can muster the necessary tactics and strategies to achieve their goals. The greatest leaders are eagles who combine the traits of hedgehogs and foxes. 

Eagles adapt as needed. They don’t always tell the truth or stand firm on deeply-held values and beliefs if those facts or ideals become obstacles to achieving their goals. While history proves that hedgehogs, foxes and, especially, eagles can accomplish almost anything, unfortunately, many leaders are ostriches: They don’t know where they want to go or how, and they often fail.

Though history’s most accomplished ...

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