The Unexpected Leader – Jacqueline M. Baker Book Summary

The Unexpected Leader – Jacqueline M. Baker | Free Book Summary

The Unexpected Leader – Jacqueline M. Baker

This new book offers a fresh and inspirational take on the traditional idea of leadership, by examining leadership from a variety of perspectives. The book looks at the traits and characteristics of successful leaders, and how these can be applied to any situation to create a successful outcome and result. 

The book also examines the leadership styles of some of the world’s most successful people and how their actions can be applied in our own lives. It has practical advice on how to become an effective leader and how to develop the right tools and skills to achieve your goals.

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Leaders don’t always need to be out front

It feels good to be recognized, highly regarded, and regaled. Who doesn’t want to be celebrated! Even people who don’t necessarily crave the spotlight like to be highlighted in some capacity for the right thing and when the time is right. But always being highly regarded and celebrated isn’t the most important aspect of leadership, or even a goal at all.

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When you take on the responsibility and commitment to embrace and elevate in your leadership journey, you also accept that everything isn’t always about you or about you being personally celebrated. It’s often about the bigger picture, the greater goal, and not just your own growth and development but that of others as well.

Leaders don’t always need followers

While most leaders are characterized as having a mass of people they direct, lead, or guide, there is an essential step that must happen for you to effectively lead other people, other things, or organizations. It’s the ability and commitment to lead yourself, every day and in every way.

Embracing the fact that one of the most important leadership levels is the leadership of self is an important foundational learning. Before you can advance to be a dynamic people leader or the leader of an organization, movement, or community, embracing your role as a self-leader is a pivotal step.

Leaders must evolve as the world evolves

Leaders must pay attention, adjust, and embrace the realities of the world so that our skills and abilities, and the application of them, can be adjusted accordingly.

Consider the leaders who have historically only been focused on results from their teams and that approach may have worked for them for years. Well, around mid-March of 2020, they needed to become more tuned in to mental health, to emotional awareness, and to more than just team results in order for their department and their organization to be effective.

Effective leaders can’t put their heads in the sand and avoid the ever-changing world around them and the skills needed to address the challenges of modern times.

Learning from You

One of the best ways to learn from yourself is through documentation and review. While being aware of what our style may be in real time, by documenting our experiences and then reviewing it, we can analyze ourselves while outside of the situation at hand.

This can be accomplished by journaling, either digitally or physically. Consistent journaling allows us to observe trends and similarities in our approach, instead of making snap judgments about how we may have handled something in a one-off situation.

Learning from Others

Just as you have the opportunity to learn from yourself, you have a similar and sometimes more valuable opportunity to learn from others. Because we often see ourselves much different from how we truly are, it’s essential that we seek feedback from others.

One of the best ways to do this is by commissioning your own 360 review. If you’re not already familiar, a 360 review is a performance tool that solicits feedback about someone from all directions: their managers, coworkers, direct reports, friends, and so on.

You have the potential to be a leader in the workplace, in your home, among your friends, in your community, with your travel buddies—pretty much everywhere.


Self-awareness is a muscle that must be worked on in order to be improved. Although it seems that we should be the experts on ourselves, sometimes we need a little intentional work to realize more about ourselves to be more effective communicators, listeners, and leaders. If you’re looking to be more self-aware, try:

Taking personality assessments. Getting regular feedback. Keeping a journal and regularly documenting your experiences (and reflect on them).

Personality Traits

You may in fact be the one person in your family or friend group who sees things differently, takes a different approach, or is willing to go against the grain because of your personality makeup.

While this (sometimes) defiant approach of yours may feel fleeting, controversial, or even counterproductive, it’s still necessary for someone to be willing to raise their hand to question the unquestionable, propose a different approach, or even start something over from scratch.

Our natural or adopted personality traits can be the permission that we need to discover a new approach or solution that no one else is willing to see at the most opportune times.


Communication is one of those magical skills that cut across every sector of our lives. It’s also one of those deeply multifaceted skills that seems simple in nature but below the surface is deeply complicated. This is because communication reaches far beyond the words you say.

Beyond the words that you use, there are six other areas that you should keep in mind as you’re looking to communicate intentionally and effectively:

  • Facial expressions
  • Body movement and posture
  • Gestures
  • Touch
  • Space
  • Eye contact

Only 7% of communication happens through our words. The other whopping 93% occurs through our nonverbals, like facial expressions, body movements, and so forth. So remember to align your words with your nonverbals for an overall effective communication approach.

Agility and Adaptability

As much as we want things to come together seamlessly and for things to go 100% as planned, rarely does that occur. Our ability to embrace the unknown and “go with the flow” positions us to see the positives and the pleasant surprises in unexpected situations.

This commitment to embracing agility and adaptability in individual situations is important, but it is also essential when you’re setting expectations for yourself. Consider what you may have thought about what you were (or were not) a couple of years ago from a leadership standpoint before you picked up this book.


The magic of delegation is that the thing you were ultimately after to get done can still be done, but with a bit of assistance. Furthermore, there is an opportunity for you to actually enjoy the outcome more because, through delegation, you can:

Share the breadth of the work with others. Inspire and support other people to elevate in their leadership journey by offering them visibility and skill elevation opportunities. Actually enjoy the outcomes and not be burned out by trying to do it all.

There are a million ways to get the exact same tasks completed. By embracing delegation, you’re allowing the discovery of other ways to elevate as a leader while also supporting the elevation of others at the same time.

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