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Summary: Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team Is Waiting For by Jonathan Raymond

  • “Good Authority” by Jonathan Raymond redefines leadership as a coaching-oriented approach focused on trust and accountability.
  • The book offers practical tools for providing effective feedback and conducting coaching conversations.
  • It promotes a shift from traditional hierarchical leadership to a more empowering and collaborative model, fostering personal growth and ownership within the team.


“Good Authority” leaders inspire their employees to become the best they can be and to accomplish more than they think possible. Jonathan Raymond – founder of Refound and former CEO and Chief Brand Officer of eMyth – offers a manual that best-selling author Seth Godin called a “modern classic.” Raymond sets out to teach bosses how to become inspiring leaders their employees will follow enthusiastically. Based on his own leadership journey, Raymond demonstrates how real-time mentoring, active support and intelligent feedback make all the difference in leading teams, teaching staff members to solve their own problems and achieving ambitious goals.

Summary: Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team Is Waiting For by Jonathan Raymond


  • Too many bosses become petty tyrants who mistreat their employees.
  • Brutal work conditions led author Jonathan Raymond to take time off to find himself.
  • Raymond became a CEO who let his employees determine what they needed from him.
  • Leaders must guide their followers to solve their own problems.
  • Don’t give your team members all the answers; instead, guide them to work out their challenges themselves.
  • Good Authority leaders hold their teams accountable and hold themselves accountable to their teams.
  • The Good-Authority Manifesto details the positive traits leaders should have.
  • Major changes can depress you or challenge you to become a better person and a better leader.
  • Establishing work-life balance means finding the joy in your work and life.


Too many bosses become petty tyrants who mistreat their employees.

“Screaming, brutish, Napoleon-type” tyrants can make workers miserable. They often treat their personnel as if their lives and emotions don’t matter while maintaining unrealistic expectations about their productivity. Yet, many office workers persevere even in the face of bad management, remaining positive, kind and considerate despite difficult managers who sow negativity. In such offices, workers can end up fighting over scarce resources and fearing for their livelihood. It’s no surprise that they decide to keep their “heads down” so their angry, frustrated bosses don’t start passing out blame.

“This is not a rule book, and it doesn’t describe a linear process. It offers a new management theory and a set of skills you can test out and decide for yourself if they work.”

As a leader, you can reverse a negative workplace atmosphere and create a new environment by becoming a “good authority,” an executive who empowers your employees and makes sure they get what they need.

Brutal work conditions led Jonathan Raymond to take time off to find himself.

Author Jonathan Raymond used to work in an anger-filled professional environment. Finally he decided that he was not resigned to working in a negative setting and was done with suffering, so he abandoned the toxic office, quit his job and struck out on his own. As part of his transition, he traveled to Vermont for an eight-day “meditation retreat.” During this period of respite, Raymond got in touch with himself and experienced his thoughts and feelings in new, profound and sustaining ways.

“Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.” (Bertolt Brecht)

Raymond found a groundbreaking sense of an enlightened internal reality. He promised himself that his efforts at self-enlightenment and self-discovery would never end – and he has kept that promise. Even when he went back to work in another typical office, mostly to pay his bills, he continued on his evolving journey of self-discovery. Over the years, this journey involved other spiritual retreats, including some in the “high mountains in faraway places” with teachers who had wisdom to share.

Liberated from the standard grind that plagues so many workers, Raymond trained as a yoga teacher, studied somatic psychotherapy and helped start his own renewable-energy business. With like-minded colleagues, Raymond created a nonprofit organization to teach young people how to meditate.

Raymond became a CEO who let his employees determine what they needed from him.

In 2011, Raymond became CEO of eMyth, a coaching firm. After significant success, he voluntarily stepped down as chief executive though he continued to work for the company. This gave him the rare opportunity to work in a business environment he’d helped create and, yet, could evaluate as any other employee might. Other than his marriage, Raymond regards this career shift as the most positive occurrence of his life.

“Who I am is everything I’ve learned. I am all the mistakes I’ve ever made. I am my greatest successes and joys.”

In his new subordinate role, Raymond discovered to his surprise that mentoring from the company’s leaders had limited applicability. Deciding to try something new, he asked his team members to tell him what they’d like from him, instead of telling them what he wanted them to do. The result? His employees enthusiastically gained “ownership” of their tasks just as Raymond most hoped could happen but had never before managed to inspire.

He learned that the freedom he gave his employees created positive reverberations in their lives. He also discovered the practicality of giving his staff members straightforward, detailed feedback. Raymond learned to allow his employees to respond to his feedback and adjust to it in their own time or decide to dismiss it, as they saw fit. These lessons are at the heart of the Good Authority leadership principles.

Leaders must guide their followers to solve their own problems.

Most leaders believe they’ve earned their authority due to their special ability to solve problems and achieve goals. The core Good Authority truth, however, is that answering questions is not a leader’s primary job. The leader’s job is to show people how to find their own answers.

In that way, good authorities are helpful resources for their workers. Leaders should provide supportive mentorship, so their people can figure out how to solve their own problems. A leader’s job isn’t necessarily to fix things, but to be a resource in getting things fixed.

“Solving your team’s problems for them is not only not the solution; it is the hidden cause of many of those problems in the first place.”

Once leaders come to grips with this reality, 90% of their challenges and work difficulties get resolved. Indeed, applying the following three principles is the core of becoming a Good Authority:

  1. The “deepest” purpose of a business is to transform its employees’ lives for the better.
  2. Business leaders should demonstrate to their staff members that professional growth and personal growth are inextricable.
  3. To increase your employees’ engagement, engage with them.

Don’t give your team members all the answers; instead, guide them to work out their challenges themselves.

People ultimately must learn to manage for themselves. For example, in the early Star Wars films, the mentor figure, Yoda, shared sufficient wisdom with Luke Skywalker to give the young hero a fighting chance to come out on top using his own abilities.

“What Yoda has to teach us about managing and leading people has more to do with what he didn’t do than what he did.”

Yoda knew that for Luke to triumph, he first had to win within himself. Luke had to learn to tap into the “Force,” the metaphysical, ubiquitous power of the universe in Star Wars’ terms. Yoda gave Luke plenty of room to learn how to manage for himself – the true magic of the Force. Like Good Authority leaders, Yoda never did things for Luke; instead, he enabled Luke to do what he needed to do for himself. The lesson is that leaders don’t have to be wondrous problem solvers, but they do have to become a resource for their people.

Take four steps to institute your Good Authority leadership:

  1. Maintain an open calendar – Stay available to your teams. Don’t jam yourself up with constant meetings.
  2. Meet weekly with each team member – Insist that each team member meets with you weekly with no exceptions. When people feel overwhelmed, often they don’t see how to move ahead, and they may be reluctant to request help. That’s when they most need a leader’s guidance.
  3. Communicate with your managerial peers – Stay in close touch with other managers in your organization to coordinate the activities and goals of your team and theirs.
  4. Don’t answer all your team’s questions – Ask your team members pertinent questions to help them figure out their own solutions.

Good Authority leaders hold their teams accountable and hold themselves accountable to their teams.

You can’t become a Good Authority unless you hold yourself accountable to the people you supervise. Your employees and teams must, in turn, hold themselves accountable to you. This requires leaders to develop positive relationships with their team members.

“Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone, and your team, is to let them go.”

Productive relationships depend on meaningful conversations, so managers must hold straightforward talks with their team members. You can use the “Accountability Dial” as a tool to gauge the positive aspects of your conversations with your employees. This tool analyzes the “internal architecture” of your discussions by identifying their “sweet spot.” It has five elements:

  1. The “Mention” – In your conversation with an employee, refer briefly to an element that could cause trouble or otherwise prove problematic, such as, “You seem a bit overwhelmed this week.” Bring this item up in the kindest possible way.
  2. The “Invitation” – Use this if the Mention doesn’t work. An example: “Remember that comment I made about typos in the newsletter the other day? I saw a few in the memo to the sales team…just now.” Differences between the Invitation and the Mention can be quite subtle.
  3. The “Conversation” – This is the most crucial element of the Accountability Dial. Plan on a 30-minute, no-interruptions, no-distractions meeting with an employee to focus strictly on that person and his or her needs and issues. Be considerate, caring, thoughtful and humane.
  4. The “Boundary” – If the Conversation doesn’t work as it should to address your concerns, step things up dramatically. Hold additional conversations. If the employee is not prepared to meet your reasonable terms, consider termination.
  5. The “Limit” – One final try. During this brief conversation – five minutes or less – lay your cards out bluntly. If you still can’t achieve a meeting of the minds with the employee, dismissal may be your only option.

Keeping an employee who won’t meet you at least halfway is counterproductive. Releasing this person to move on to something more suitable is better for him or her, better for your team, and better for you.

The Good-Authority Manifesto details the positive traits leaders should have.

Manifestos are declarative statements of principles and preferred actions. Good Authorities operate according to such a set of uplifting tenets. The Good Authority Manifesto maintains that leaders must have:

  • The ability to identify facets of people and events that most people would fail to notice.
  • The generosity to speak clearly now, not later.
  • The calmness to meet others wherever they are on their individual journeys.
  • The wherewithal to challenge people to continue their personal quest.
  • The courage not to accept excuses. Insist that people step up and take responsibility for their actions.
  • The passion to examine unfamiliar areas of knowledge.
  • The earned wisdom to avoid easy answers and demand honest responses.
  • The strength of character to adopt unpopular positions.
  • The readiness to be candid and open with their team members.
  • The maturity to wait while those around them discover their personal truths.
  • The integrity to follow the difficult standards they set for others.
  • The personal strength to advocate for doing things the right way.
  • The boldness of spirit to believe they can make the world better.
  • The graciousness to recognize that they could be mistaken about something and the willingness to try to get it right going forward.

Major changes can depress you or challenge you to become a better person and a better leader.

Advanced technology, climate change, societal shifts, current events and numerous other dramatic changes affect almost everyone. Change in many areas converges so quickly that people find it hard to sort out each strand. Amid these challenges, leaders must strive to stay humane.

“Invest in the process of personal growth with each person, and you’ll create a rare and beautiful thing in our world: a team of people pursuing their individual self-interests in a way that contributes to the passionate pursuit of a collective goal.”

You can react to ongoing change with depression and hopelessness, or you can see the convergence of so many shifting forces as a rare opportunity to take bold, dramatic steps to solve problems and improve yourself, your situation, your organization and the world around you. Everyone wants positive change to happen quickly, but it rarely does. Productive change takes time. Good Authority leaders regard change and career growth with a sense of perspective, seeing them as aspects of the “ongoing process” of life.

Establishing work-life balance means finding the joy in your work and life.

If you can shift from resignation to inspiration in the face of challenges and transitions, you can lead productive change and craft a healthy work-life balance. Ideally, instead of seeing your work as just a way to pay your bills, it can become “a source of joy” that engages, inspires and motivates you. Try to come to work with relish, optimism and a sense of purpose. Use that momentum to fuel enthusiasm and joy in the other parts of your life. Your work can be a conduit for forging personal connections that enhance your life and advance your career. Building sustained, mutually nourishing human connections at work is a powerful part of establishing a rewarding work-life balance.

About the Author

Jonathan Raymond is CEO of Refound, which “believes we should all be aiming for more Yoda and less Superman.” He is the former CEO and Chief Brand Officer of eMyth.


Leadership, Business, Nonfiction, Management, Self Help, Psychology, Workplace Culture, Mentoring and Coaching


“Good Authority” by Jonathan Raymond is a thought-provoking book that explores the concept of leadership and how to become the kind of leader that your team truly needs. The central premise of the book revolves around the idea of shifting from traditional, top-down leadership to a more modern and effective approach based on mutual trust and accountability. Raymond argues that becoming a “Good Authority” involves embracing a more coaching-oriented style of leadership that fosters growth and development within the team.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Redefining Authority: The book challenges the conventional perception of authority as control and instead presents it as a means to provide guidance, support, and mentorship. “Good Authority” involves helping team members reach their potential rather than micromanaging them.
  2. The Drama Triangle: Raymond introduces the Drama Triangle, which includes three roles – Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor. The author encourages leaders to move away from these roles and instead adopt the Empowerment Dynamic, with roles like Creator, Coach, and Challenger, to promote a healthier work environment.
  3. The Feedback Loop: The book emphasizes the importance of constructive feedback. Raymond introduces a framework for providing feedback that focuses on the “3P’s” – Person, Pattern, and Path. This approach makes feedback more impactful and helps team members grow and improve.
  4. Coaching Conversations: The book provides practical tools and techniques for conducting coaching conversations. It offers guidance on asking open-ended questions, active listening, and fostering a safe space for team members to share their thoughts and concerns.
  5. The Accountability Dial: Raymond introduces the concept of the Accountability Dial, a tool for understanding the different levels of accountability. It helps leaders identify where team members fall on the dial and how to guide them towards higher accountability.

“Good Authority” is a refreshing take on leadership that challenges the traditional hierarchical approach and offers a more empowering and constructive model. Jonathan Raymond’s writing is clear and engaging, making it accessible to both experienced leaders and those new to leadership roles.

One of the book’s strengths is its practicality. Raymond provides concrete examples and actionable steps for implementing the principles of “Good Authority” in real-world leadership situations. The focus on coaching and providing effective feedback is particularly valuable, as these skills are essential for fostering a positive and productive work environment.

The book’s emphasis on trust and accountability is timely and relevant. It encourages leaders to build strong, collaborative teams by focusing on personal development and fostering a sense of ownership among team members. This not only leads to a more motivated and engaged workforce but also enhances overall organizational performance.

However, some readers may find that the book could benefit from more in-depth case studies or examples from different industries to demonstrate the principles in action. Additionally, while the book promotes a highly effective approach to leadership, it may require a shift in mindset for some leaders who are accustomed to more traditional management styles.

In conclusion, “Good Authority” is a valuable resource for leaders who are looking to transform their leadership style and create a more empowered, accountable, and high-performing team. Jonathan Raymond’s insights and practical advice make this book a must-read for anyone seeking to become the leader their team is waiting for.

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

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