Skip to Content

Summary: Lead to Win: How to Be a Powerful, Impactful, Influential Leader in Any Environment by Carla A. Harris

  • The article outlines 10 principles of leadership that can help anyone to become a more powerful, impactful, and influential leader in any environment. These principles include meeting the needs of your staff and customers, taking risks, building teams, being a change agent, and more.
  • The article also provides practical tips and examples on how to apply these principles in different situations, such as leading through crises, dealing with uncertainty, overcoming blind spots, and developing a strategic vision.
  • The article emphasizes the importance of adapting to the changing world and constantly learning and growing as a leader. It also encourages leaders to leverage their authentic voice and identity to inspire others and create a lasting legacy.


Best-selling author, speaker, investment banker – and sometime gospel singer – Carla A. Harris, former chair of the National Women’s Business Council, insists that today’s constant changes demand superior leaders. She details the vital skills they need. These include the foresight and courage to take calculated risks, and the ability to develop and sustain productive partnerships. Harris explains that leaders must adjust, adapt and keep going, while embracing the knowledge that uncertainty is the new certainty.


  • Corporate leaders once ruled via fear and threats.
  • Many employees who worked from home during the COVID pandemic are examining their job options.
  • Firms must become more attractive to retain employees.
  • You can demonstrate quality leadership by following 10 principles.
  • Meet the needs of your staff and customers.
  • Take every opportunity to grow as a leader.
  • The teams you organize help determine your legacy.
  • Strong leaders take risks to achieve personal and professional growth.
  • Success depends on multitalented groups, not soloists.
  • Your actions, not your title, make you a leader.
  • Leaders are change agents.
  • Leaders must be decisive and empathetic to survive crises.
  • Leaders know their blind spots.
  • Leaders look ahead strategically.

Book Summary: Lead to Win - How to Be a Powerful, Impactful, Influential Leader in Any Environment


Corporate leaders once ruled via fear and threats.

In decades past, many CEOs controlled employees through fear. They threatened any employees who didn’t toe the line and follow orders with demotions and job loss. They quickly demoted or fired anyone who showed independence or spoke up too often. These CEOs were not innovative. They did not focus on customers.Their time has passed.

“Both the pandemic and the social unrest have created air cover for leaders who want to transform or pivot their cultures without the typically associated risk of retribution.”

Today, top executives understand the value of pleasing customers, of innovating, and of offering superior service at the lowest possible prices. Executives of truly effective companies will go to great lengths to please their customers.

Many employees who worked from home during the COVID pandemic are examining their job options.

The COVID-19 pandemic created disruptive change in business. A couple of years of doing their jobs from home gave many workers time to consider their careers, priorities and life goals. Often, they decided they wanted to live without the pressure of working in the confines of cubicles. They sought other jobs, or became self-employed entrepreneurs.

Firms must become more attractive to retain employees.

Now companies must figure out how to retain top talent, particularly managers who lead teams. They must develop ways to recruit promising new employees. To compete, they may have to make their compensation programs more generous. Employees who work for quality managers are more reluctant to leave their jobs, so firms must pay such managers well. These leaders motivate and inspire their teams. Their employees feel less desire to leave, and have far fewer reasons to do so than workers who choose to go elsewhere.

“You will need to learn about things such as how budgets are created, how resources are allocated, who makes resource allocation decisions, who the organization’s other strong performers are and who the stakeholders are.”

These leaders are authentic, energetic, and tough-minded risk-takers and visionaries. Their employees admire and trust them. And these leaders know how to leverage the assets of their business relationships.

You can demonstrate quality leadership by following 10 principles.

Strong corporate leadership is not transactional or accidental. High-quality leaders follow these 10 precepts.

Meet the needs of your staff and customers.

Aspiring leaders successfully handle assignments from their superiors. They make sure the employees who work under their direction have the resources, experiences and opportunities they need to handle their tasks.

“Your ability to take advantage of leadership opportunities is a critical step on the journey to becoming a leader.”

Additionally, these young leaders do their part to take care of the company’s customers. They heed the interests of the firm’s core stakeholders and other essential constituencies. Up-and-coming managers recognize that as they monitor their teams, executives keep a close eye on them as potential candidates for future, higher leadership roles.

Take every opportunity to grow as a leader.

If you are a promising young leader, your company should provide leadership development programs, offering opportunities to help you build your skills and advance in your career. Doing well in these programs and seizing these opportunities expand your future prospects.

“When being groomed for a top role, you will be asked to take on interim positions that will prepare you to lead, manage or motivate people.”

As you grow as a leader, answer these important questions: How do you want others to perceive you as a leader? How should you change your behavior to show your readiness for leadership? What must you do to succeed with your current leadership opportunities? What do your superiors expect of you? How do you want the people on your team to describe you? What must you accomplish within a reasonable time – say, the next three years?

Collaborate with the people on your team, and encourage their best efforts to inspire their loyalty and appreciation. These consistent actions show that you respect them, and that you recognize their capabilities and talents. How they feel about you will prove a dominant factor in your company retaining them.

The teams you organize help determine your legacy.

Who you are, how you carry yourself and what you accomplish shape your leadership legacy. The people you lead define it. Recruiting and hiring the best and most appropriate people are essential to your legacy as a leader. Hiring mistakes harm your career, your legacy and your company.

“When the opportunity to lead presents itself, it’s too late to start to prepare. Whether it’s taking leadership classes, [or] taking on stretch assignments or projects…do what you need to be ready when the door opens.”

The ability to recruit, interview and hire quality people is an art, not a science. Rely on the expertise of people who can counsel you about whom to hire and whom to avoid. If you must fill a position that requires a high level of technical expertise, talk to professionals in your organization who possess that knowledge. Heed their advice about what to look for in job applicants.

Strong leaders take risks to achieve personal and professional growth.

The best corporate leaders don’t fear risk. They know they’ll never succeed if they’re afraid to take a chance. However, they gamble intelligently, with solid information, to cut risk as much as possible.

“Taking the risk, even when it doesn’t work out the way you wanted, always brings you the gift of experience, and experience is extremely valuable.”

The best corporate leaders don’t fear risk because they believe in themselves. They are confident in their abilities to analyze, think strategically, figure things out and fix problems as they arise. These leaders trust their data and their ability to interpret data accurately, so they judiciously take educated, smart risks.

Success depends on multitalented groups, not soloists.

It used to be that the primary path for business success was for companies to work alone to develop and introduce sector-dominating, proprietary products or services. That kind of innovative success enables companies to set their own prices.

“It’s nearly impossible today for companies to go it completely alone.”

Bold innovation by cutting-edge firms that work alone remains one manifestation of success. However, many of today’s most creative companies also want to form partnerships to achieve innovation. The reason is simple: Financial issues and other pressures make it difficult for most companies to carry out timely innovation entirely by themselves. Working closely with other firms allows companies to share innovation costs and benefit from their partners’ special competencies. Partnerships in your sector may protect you and your partner competitively. Many leaders distinguish themselves not only by their solo feats and individual skills, but by their ability to organize and employ talented teams.

Your actions, not your title, make you a leader.

Quality leadership is not accidental. The best leaders are purposeful in all they say and do. Their actions are intentional – often, even predictable.

“No matter what you do for a living, you have to be intentional about showing up as a leader every day. Leadership is an active state of being.”

Such intentionality requires eight qualities:

  1. Practice authenticity – Your integrity motivates others.
  2. Be trustworthy – You can’t lead others if they don’t trust you.
  3. Maintain clarity – Specify your goals and the paths to reach them, to avoid confusion among your team members.
  4. Develop leaders – Find and nurture up-and-coming leaders who will operate from your playbook.
  5. Celebrate diversity – Assemble a diverse, effective mix of talented people.
  6. Celebrate new ideas – Let your team know they can fail and learn from their mistakes without fear of repercussions.
  7. Be inclusive – Ask everyone’s opinion on meaningful issues.
  8. Speak up and speak out – Share your knowledge and expertise.

Leaders are change agents.

Transformational times call for transformational leaders, farsighted change agents who can help reshape their companies for the future. Such change efforts can affect an organization’s culture, platforms, supply and distribution systems, recruitment and hiring processes, and its public profile.

“Inclusion is not about taking away from one group to give to another. Expanding the team to include people with diverse perspectives, backgrounds, ways of thinking and problem-solving skills is the key to creativity and market-leading innovation.”

The game-changing, work-from-home dynamic that emerged during the pandemic calls on transformational leaders to establish efficient work arrangements that suit a majority of their employees. Before, flexibility and instantaneous action didn’t matter that much. But they have assumed a new priority today. In these rapidly evolving times, modern leaders must be genuine change agents who are “thoughtful, transparent, tenacious and transcendent.”

Leaders must be decisive and empathetic to survive crises.

The pandemic created a crisis for businesses around the globe. It killed more than four million people and had a negative impact on more than 225 million – including, of course, employees of corporations worldwide.

“If you are sitting in a leadership seat today, you must transform your company’s culture, technological platform, supply chain, distribution system, recruiting process, corporate voice, and now, thanks to…the COVID-19 pandemic…you will have to transform how and where your people work.”

Leaders must prepare to handle crises, from stock market drops to natural disasters, and even unthinkable tragedies such as the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Capable leaders must be ready to take over, maintain calm, and help and reassure their employees to provide stability in hard times.

Leaders know their blind spots.

Business leaders aren’t perfect. People have deficiencies, and in certain areas they need to know more and do better. No matter who they are, or what prestigious role they occupy, human beings have deficits and blind spots. People don’t know what they don’t know, but as a leader you must ask: What you could do better, and in which areas do you need to learn more?

“It takes courage to try and fail, especially in highly technical environments where professionals are driven by facts and data and the black and white of an issue, and fear the retribution of being wrong.”

Your blind spots can interfere with and even cripple your ability to lead effectively. They could cost you your job, unless you identify and learn to overcome them. Be alert to the four most common blind spots of leadership:

  1. An inability to exploit talent – Many business leaders can spot and hire good talent, but just as many don’t know how to recruit talented people or make the most of their abilities once they’re on board.
  2. An inability to make tough, timely personnel moves – Too many leaders keep ineffective staffers on their teams too long.
  3. An inability to create viable succession plans – Many leaders fail to prepare successors on their teams or in their firms, so no one is ready to replace them when they move to new opportunities.
  4. An inability to innovate – Too many leaders can’t imagine doing anything differently than what they’ve always done, despite the opportunities the future holds.

Leaders look ahead strategically.

Leaders can see a better future. They have a sense of what should and could be, as well as what is.Old-time business leaders focused on having oversight, and on monitoring their employees for obedience and compliance. Enlightened, modern leaders focus on insight, not oversight.

“Leaders typically must get comfortable and confident making decisions with incomplete and imprecise information and without having clear visibility on the myriad potential outcomes.”

This means being able to envision how, with the proper training and development, they can groom people on their teams to move into more responsible positions down the road. Insightful leaders create strategies and plans for delivering results, now and in the future.

About the Author

Former chair of the National Women’s Business Council Carla A. Harris was named among Black Enterprise’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.


Leadership, Business, Nonfiction, Personal Development, Management, Self Help, Career, Motivational


Lead to Win by Carla A Harris is a comprehensive guide that provides valuable insights and practical advice on becoming a powerful, impactful, and influential leader in any environment. The book is packed with wisdom and actionable steps that can help both aspiring and experienced leaders enhance their leadership skills and make a lasting impact.


“Lead to Win” is a comprehensive guide to effective leadership, written by Carla A. Harris, a renowned business leader and expert in leadership development. The book offers practical advice and strategies for leaders to become powerful, impactful, and influential in any environment. With a focus on personal and professional growth, Harris provides a framework for leaders to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the importance of leadership and the qualities that make a good leader. Harris discusses the need for leaders to be clear about their vision, to be able to motivate and inspire others, and to have a strong work ethic. She also emphasizes the importance of building relationships and trust with employees.

The second part of the book provides readers with specific strategies for leading effectively. Harris discusses topics such as decision-making, communication, and conflict resolution. She also offers advice on how to create a positive work environment and how to motivate employees.

The third part of the book focuses on the challenges that leaders face and how to overcome them. Harris discusses topics such as dealing with difficult people, managing change, and dealing with setbacks. She also offers advice on how to stay motivated and how to balance work and personal life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Defining Leadership: Harris emphasizes the importance of understanding the true definition of leadership, which is not just about having a title or position of power, but rather about inspiring and influencing others to achieve a common goal.
  • The Power of Self-Awareness: Harris stresses the significance of self-awareness in leadership, encouraging readers to understand their own strengths, weaknesses, and motivations in order to lead effectively.
  • Building Trust: Trust is a crucial element of leadership, and Harris provides guidance on how to build and maintain trust with colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential for leaders, and Harris offers practical tips on how to communicate clearly, concisely, and persuasively.
  • Overcoming Obstacles: The book also addresses common challenges leaders face, such as self-doubt, fear of failure, and lack of resources, and provides strategies for overcoming these obstacles.
  • The Importance of Networking: Harris emphasizes the value of building a strong network of relationships, both within and outside of one’s organization, to achieve success and reach one’s full potential.
  • Creating a Winning Culture: The book concludes with guidance on how to create a winning culture within an organization, including tips on how to build a strong team, foster collaboration, and drive innovation.


  • Practical Advice: The book is filled with practical advice and strategies that can be applied to real-life situations, making it an invaluable resource for leaders at any level.
  • Personal and Professional Growth: Harris emphasizes the importance of personal and professional growth for leaders, encouraging readers to continuously develop their skills and knowledge.
  • Relevant Examples: The book includes relevant examples from Harris’s own experiences, as well as from other successful leaders, to illustrate key concepts and strategies.
  • Accessible Language: The language used in the book is accessible and easy to understand, making it a great resource for leaders who may not have a background in business or leadership.


  • Limited Focus: The book’s focus is primarily on leadership development, and some readers may find that it does not address other important aspects of business, such as finance or marketing.
  • Lack of Case Studies: While the book includes examples from Harris’s own experiences and other leaders, some readers may find that there are not enough case studies to provide a deeper understanding of the concepts and strategies presented.

Areas for Improvement:

  • Lack of Depth in Some Chapters: While the book provides a comprehensive overview of leadership, some chapters could benefit from more in-depth analysis and examples.
  • Limited Focus on Technical Skills: Harris primarily focuses on soft skills and personal development, which are essential for effective leadership. However, some readers may find a more comprehensive approach to technical skills, such as project management, communication, and decision-making.
  • Some Theories and Concepts Could Be More Explained: Some of the theoretical frameworks and concepts, such as situational leadership and cognitive diversity, could be more thoroughly explained and illustrated with examples.

Target Audience:

The target audience for this book is leaders at any level, from entry-level managers to CEOs, as well as anyone looking to develop their leadership skills and reach their full potential.


In conclusion, “Lead to Win” is a comprehensive guide to effective leadership that offers practical advice and strategies for leaders to become powerful, impactful, and influential in any environment. With a focus on personal and professional growth, the book provides a framework for leaders to achieve their goals and reach their full potential. While the book may have some limitations, such as a limited focus and lack of case studies, it is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to develop their leadership skills and achieve success.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

    Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

    Your Support Matters...

    We run an independent site that is committed to delivering valuable content, but it comes with its challenges. Many of our readers use ad blockers, causing our advertising revenue to decline. Unlike some websites, we have not implemented paywalls to restrict access. Your support can make a significant difference. If you find this website useful and choose to support us, it would greatly secure our future. We appreciate your help. If you are currently using an ad blocker, please consider disabling it for our site. Thank you for your understanding and support.