Barefoot Leadership

The Art and Heart of Going the Extra Mile

The ten principles of Barefoot Leadership in this book are simple, timeless and profound. The principles are not meant for knowledge alone; they are meant for practice. Each of the ten principles will help you become the kind of leader you and I are looking for: ordinary people who inspire others to go that extra mile with them in order to achieve greater good.

10 Principles of Barefoot Leadership

  • Let Go of Control

  • Embrace Your Calling

  • Courage

  • Humility

  • Deliberate Practise

  • Savour Joy

  • Do What You Love

  • Love What You Do

  • Every Person Matters

  • Your Life Matters

Stories from the Heart

The real-life stories of Barefoot Leaders offer you a snapshot of who they are, as ordinary people, and what they did to accomplish breakthroughs despite great odds. The source material for this book comes from more than 1,000 hours of interviews and close observation of these leaders in the thick of action.

Case Studies: “Step into the shoes of….”

In every chapter, you are invited to step into the world of Barefoot Leaders. If you were in their shoes, how would you respond?

For example:

  • What would you do in your first 30 days if you were asked to save a failing airline?

  • What would you do to raise the performance of the bottom-ranked class in the bottom-ranked school?

  • How would you react if someone stole your prized orchids?

  • How would you convince villagers to entrust their hard-earned savings to you when you yourself are poor?

  • What would you do for the next 48 hours if you were among the first to reach Aceh after a tsunami just obliterated the town and left the survivors homeless?

  • How would you respond to your preadolescent daughter who beseeches you to teach her how to cook – at a time most inconvenient to you?

  • an obstetrician and gynaecologist who gradually relinquished her successful medical practice to mobilise hundreds of doctors to save lives in disaster-striken zones, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan.

  • a hotelier who built a world-class adventure travel company by hiring illiterate juveniles.

Going Barefoot Exercises

No one can become a great leader by trying to be like someone else. You will want to take off your shoes and go barefoot too. In this spirit, there are reflection tools and exercises at the end of each chapter to help you integrate the book’s best ideas with your life’s most unique challenges and opportunities. By investing only ten to twenty minutes per exercise, you will gain important insights about yourself.