Greater Than Yourself Leadership: How to Change the World

“The basic and seemingly paradoxical truth of GTY (Greater Than Yourself) is that truly great leaders in life,” said Charles Roland, “become so because they cause others to be greater than themselves.”

The words sounded familiar.  “Who said that?” I asked Charles.

“Well, unless you’re a ventriloquist, I did,” he said mischievously.

Thus begins chapter 4 of Steve Farber’s brilliant book, “Greater Than Yourself: the Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership.” It’s a smooth, velvet-worded tale that takes you on a music-laden ride with Steve, ultimately getting at the heart of what makes “Greater Than Yourself” leadership so powerful.

I found this book thoroughly inspiring and am thrilled to announce that Steve Farber will be the Guest Host for this week’s Leadership Chat at 8:00 pm ET on Twitter.   Having had the privilege of sitting next to Steve at last year’s SOBCon conference I can attest to the depth of Steve’s wisdom and insights that he’ll be sharing with us.

He’ll be helping the Leadership Chat Community understand the principles behind GTY Leadership, and how we can implement them immediately in our own lives.

What is Greater Than Yourself Leadership?

As the Charles Roland character goes on to say at the end of Chapter 4, “There are three tenets of Greater Than Yourself…Expand Yourself, Give Yourself and Replicate Yourself.”

Expand Yourself

When reading the book, I found myself connecting with the experience of one of the characters in the book who couldn’t see how he had enough to give, or anything worthy enough to give, that would enable another person to truly be “greater than themself.”

So, reading the following passage in the words of the Charles Roland character was eye-opening for me:

“Now, if you’re really going to take this seriously, to make others greater than yourself, you have to start the process not with them, but with yourself…

First, you have to have a very deep and expansive sense of who you are.  Your self-confidence has to be unshakable and unwavering.  You have to understand to the very core of your being that relationship is not a zero-sum game.  Your heart has to be big enough to care about another’s hopes and dreams at least as much as you care about your own.  And you have to be getting better and better, more competent, smarter, more experienced, more connected to others all the time.

Said another way, you have to Expand Yourself before you can help make others greater.”

Give Yourself

Here again, I found myself rocked by the real magnitude of the principle here.  You see, this is about more than giving “of yourself” – which implies giving yourself generously but certainly not entirely.

And yet, that is what “Give Yourself” refers to when it comes to Greater Than Yourself Leadership:

“The real payoff comes in the giving of knowledge, not the keeping of it.  If I’m going to make you greater, I have to give freely of not only my knowledge, but all my resources: my connections and network, my experience, my insights, my advice and counsel – even my time.”

“Be generous,” I said.  It was more of a question than a statement.

“More than generous,” he said.  Give. It. All. Away.”

…”If you earn a reputation, Steve, for being one who elevates others, for being someone who gives freely to those around him at work, for turning out superstars, what’s going to happen?  You’ll have changed others’ lives, but how will it change yours?

I’ll tell you how.  Everyone will want to work with you.  And, because of that, you’ll be able to accomplish anything you set out to do…”

“It all circles back to a lovely little paradox: By focusing on making others greater than yourself, you become one of the greats, too.  You join a fellowship of the rarest of all human beings.”


Replicate Yourself

As Charles goes on to say in the book, building on the enormity of the previous two principles:

At the end of the day, it’s simply not enough to make others greater than yourself…it’s not enough to accomplish the most important leadership act of all…to change the world.

By making sure that the people you elevate are doing the same for others.  Expand Yourself, Give Yourself, and, finally, Replicate Yourself by teaching others to do exactly what you’ve done for them.

You know you want to learn more about the power of GTY leadership! Join us for an insightful and enlightening journey this Tuesday evening, April 19th, at 8:00 pm ET on Twitter as Steve Farber empowers us to live GTY in our own careers and lives.

Don’t forget to use the #LeadershipChat hash tag.  My fearless partner, Steve Woodruff, has also co-created a new chat client called ChatTagged that makes it easier to follow chats.  Simply download and observe or jump in and participate!


If you enjoyed this post please consider sharing it with others using the share links below.  I would also be honored if you would subscribe to my blog. Subscribe Here to receive posts in your email in-box. To receive posts via “READER” Subscribe Here.

Thank you for reading and for being part of this community – it means so much to me.

You can find me on Twitter at @LisaPetrilli and on LinkedIn. To hire me for Visionary Leadership programs, Marketing Strategy work or for the Social Media Concierge program, email me at [email protected].

Photo is It Takes a Long Time to Grow an Old Friend by Nina Matthews Photography.


  1. Excellent post, Lisa! I’m so grateful that this happened to be the first blog post I read this morning. Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, in The Leadership Challenge, say the more leaders give away their power, the more powerful the leaders become.

    What I would add to the wisdom Charles shares (and perhaps he says this in the story) is that when giving away is done anonymously, without acknowledgment, without fanfare or “look what I have given” — then one truly becomes greater than one’s self.

    Thank you for bringing well-deserved attention to Steve’s book. Can’t wait to read Charles’ journey.

    Lead on,

    • Hi Angie,

      Thank you for sharing that Kouzes/Posner insight – yes, I think it’s very similar, although I, myself, would never advise someone to “give away their power.” I think it’s critical that we own our own power, yet empower and lift up others in ways that Steve talks about in the book. Keep in mind I’m saying that without reading the book you mention – so I don’t know the context in which they’re advising that. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to that as a woman – I think it’s sometimes too easy for us to give our power away without realizing it.

      I think you’d love Steve’s book and I am so grateful that you read the post this morning! Thank you for being here and I’d be honored if you’d join us tomorrow night at Leadership Chat.

  2. Lisa,

    A wonderful, inspiring post. Indeed, ‘changing the world’ is within all of us yet few achieve that goal. Reminds me of Steve Jobs’ quest to lead Apple and back in ’97 when things looked a little bleak, created the spirited “Think Different” campaign. That campaign focused on people who contributed to actually changing the world. The campaign did wonders for the brand as well.



    • Mark,

      What a beautiful and eloquent example – thank you for sharing it. Yes, I believe you’re right, changing the world is within all of us and Steve’s book really challenged me to think differently about how we can do that. We don’t have to solve world hunger, we can change the world in simpler but very significant ways. Hope you’ll be able to join us on Leadership Chat one of these days – it would be a privilege to have you there.

  3. I love these simple words of selflessness, the “real payoff comes in the giving of knowledge, not the keeping of it”. Transparency, truthfullness and sharing are qualities all of us should aspire to have. I love the simple eloquence of his written words. Real power is created in helping others.

    Too many of us think changing the world means something huge: its as simple as picking up the child who fell off their bicycle… your kindness soothes a child and shows the child how to be kind to others.

    I look forward to reading more! Thanks, Lisa
    Craig Juengling´s last blog post ..The Latest Technology is Not Going to Make Your Company Great

    • Craig,

      You’re so right – we don’t try to do it because we think it takes so much, and yet it’s so simple. I just love your insights, Craig – I hope you’ll be able to join us for the chat (or for one of them soon). Thank you for so willingly sharing here – I sincerely appreciate it.

  4. Great post and once again challenging me to creep from out of my comfort zone.

    I often get clients who say but “what’s in it for me” all the time or “how do I make money out of this” when I ask them to give something away. My best example is internet explorer versus netscape. One free the other not guess which one won out, promoted the brand and dominated?

    Not a great fan of servant leadership because of the quasi religious stuff I do love the idea of giving of yourself and enabling others to be better and better and the three things here expand, give and replicate yourself really made me think.

    Thanks again Lisa.
    Ali Handscomb´s last blog post ..Elegant leadership

    • Thank you, Ali. I have to say if those principles really resonated with you then I truly think you’ll enjoy the book. Steve helps you see how they play out in real life, and it was quite eye-opening for me. See you tomorrow night on the chat, I hope! All the best…

  5. Leadership is expansive. When we give of our strengths, we cannot expect anything but an abundance of that which we give. Our influence is magnified with each touch point. When we focus on elevating each other and The Whole, our giving builds stronger communities, more effective companies and true leaders.

    It’s like throwing a pebble into a lake and expecting the ripples to contract upon their source of origin. It’s impossible. Likewise with the intangible force of giving. True, selfless giving can’t help but ripple outward.
    @mckra1g´s last blog post ..mckra1g- RT @LisaPetrilli- Greater Than Yourself Leadership- How 2 Change the World- http-bitly-eAHKix

    • Molly, you think and write so inspiringly. You have captured the essence of expansiveness so beautifully. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts with us here…I’m truly honored that you share such deep insights here. Hope to see you tomorrow night.


  1. [...] a nice summary of three key principles of GTY leadership, read Lisa’s blog post this week (Greater Than Yourself Leadership: How to Change the World). Then join us at 8 pm ET and get to know the extraordinary community that is LeadershipChat on [...]

  2. [...] Greater Than Yourself Leadership: How to Change the World – Lisa [...]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge