skip to Main Content

Book Report – Great Leaders Have No Rules by Kevin Kruse


Too many rules get in the way of leadership. They just put you in a box. People set rules to keep from making decisions. – Coach K

In developing teams, I don’t believe in rules. I believe in standards. Rules don’t promote teamwork, standards do. Rules are issued by a leader to a group…When something is presented as a rule, you can’t own it. You can’t live it. Standards on the other hand, are lived. This is what we do all the time. These are things for which we hold another accountable – Coach K

To win in the marketplace….you must first win in the workplace. I’m obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center. Be tough-minded on standards, and tenderhearted on people. – Doug Conant -Campbells.

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked. leadership is defined by results, not attributes. There is no win or lose, win and learn – Kevin Kruse




9 Key Takeaways.
1.) Close Your Open Door Policy
2.) Shut off your smartphone
3.) Have no rules
4.) Be likable, not liked
5.) Lead with Love
6.) Crowd Your Calendar
7.) Play Favorites
8.) Reveal Everything
9.) Show Weakness

Leadership is Not a Choice Schedule Office Hours – Possibly choose a day as open door time. This leads to more productivity. When someone has a suggestion about something to make it better, put them in charge of the solution. Give them the opportunity to take a crack at it and get back to you with it. The One on One is the employees meeting, not your own. It’s their opportunity to feel cared for.

TURN SMARTPHONES OFF – 40 percent of people check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up. We check phone average of 47 times per day. Young adults check 85 times and use their phone over 5 hours a day. Smartphones bring stress. They bring stress. People who check work emails on weekend were about 50 percent more stressed. Rules put focus on activates, not outcomes.

NETFLIX – Sums up culture and it’s competitive advantage on slide one: Freedom and Responsibility. 1.) Invest in hiring high-performance employees 2.) Build and maintain a culture that rewards high performers and weeds out continuous, unimproved low performers.

GIVE GUIDELINES. – Richard Semler. Semler put a computer in the company cafeteria that revealed how much revenue the company was taking in, the profit margins from that revenue, how much employees inside the company made and how much employees in similar positions made. Employees set their own salaries. Most meetings are voluntary. How much would your employees give you if you defaulted to trust. What decisions am I willing to delegate to team members? What decisions do they wish I would delegate to them? What information do they need to have in order to make the right decision? How can we change our policies into guidelines? “Participation gives people control of their work, profit sharing gives them reason to do it better, information tells them what’s working and what isn’t”

HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE FOR RESULTS. HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE FANS FIRST STANDARD. LEAD WITH LOVE – On Fridays do you ask about their weekends. On Mondays do you ask how their weekend was? Do you know names of their spouse and children? Do they have special activities or hobbies they enjoy? What type of movies and books do they enjoy? Do you celebrate their birthdays and work anniversaries? Hold one on one career path meetings every 6 months. Talk about their plans and how they can grow.

CROWD YOUR CALENDAR. 41 percent of what we put on To do lists never get done. Put everything in your calendar. Half of Fame Coaches – Coach K, John Wooden schedule their days by minutes, including every practice. Schedule buffer zones. Create in morning. Writing, brainstorming, analysis in morning. Collaborate in afternoon. Hold all work related meetings and phone calls from 1-6:00PM. Interacting with others is less bran taxing and often energizing.

CREATE, COLLABORATE, CONNECT. Create in morning. (Writing and brainstorming). Collaborate in afternoon. (Work related team meetings – interacting with others) Connect in evening. (Socially bond with family and friends)

OPEN BOOK MANAGEMENT – REVEAL EVERYTHING TO THE TEAM. ALL COSTS AND REVENUES. Have them share pieces of P&L that they are over to explain it to you? Reveal salaries of every employee. Basecamp has each level receives a certain pay. Non Bonuses. They pay high market rates for each level but reveal pay publicly.

Vulnerability drives innovation. Show failure from leader to show that we can take risks. Show how I was wrong. More Family Dinners. If you regularly eat dinner as a family, your daughters are half as likely to abuse substances in high school and your teenage children at one third like to be sexually active. When a friend ends their marriage, the odds of your own marital split increases by 75%.


Radical Idea – When you get to the office in the morning, mute your phone and put it in desk drawer. Check three times a day but after checking put it back in drawer. Put phone away while driving. Delay gratification.

Be a leader who doesn’t need to be liked. Kevin Kruse said his single greatest weakened as a leader was the need to be liked and that he was a recovering people pleaser. Bad leaders want to be loved too much and their companies suffer. Tough decisions don’t make you friends. Have more tough conversations. Need to dive into tough conversations. Do football players need a head coach to be their friend. Or do they need the coach to push them, to challenge them, to correct them in order to make them better? Help people be the best they can be. Seek to understand others on how they like to be led. Don’t seek to be liked.

CAREER PATH MEETINGS WITH TEAM – Hold one on one career path meetings every 6 months. Talk about their plans and how they can grow.

CONTINUE TO HOST WALKING MEETINGS. Increase energy and creative ideation.

LEAD WITH WEAKNESS – People want to learn from people they can relate to. People trust people who openly share their weaknesses, their failures. Kevin opens his speeches by talking about his business failures. How he had to lay off 30 percent of his employees. How he had one employee threaten to beat him up. How he was demoted. Then he shares how he changed. Then what he does differently to lead award winning companies. The Hero’s Journey.


Leadership is most often boiled down to one word: influence. Ken Blanchard defined leadership to this one word. John Maxwell: Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. You are a role model for Fans First. Lead with Love, shut off smartphone and focus on our people. Don’t focus on being liked. Help push people to be their best. Reveal everything about the company and show weakness. It comes down to Caring. Caring enough to be better leader for the people around me.