How to Win by Leaning In

Strong winds blow you down when you lean back. Successful leaders lean into resistance, adversity, failure, and criticism.

Leaning away from resistance is
a sure way to be blown down by resistance.


Welcome and learn from the stormy parts of leading. Don’t reject them.

Leaning-in isn’t fighting-off.

Lean against:

Change encounters resistance. Welcome and lean against resistance or you’ll lose.

  1. Resistance clarifies purpose and value. It forces you to answer, “Is this effort worth it?”
  2. Facing adversity strengthens resolve and reinforces commitment. Achievements of worth require commitment.
  3. Criticism, faced humbly, softens your heart and tempers abrasiveness.
  4. Failure enables improvement. Lean against mediocrity.

Lean with:

Every noble effort ultimately requires others.

Reject the ease of working alone. Embrace the power of working with others.

Invite others to lean with you and lean with those who dream like you. Leaning with:

  1. Energizes.
  2. Multiplies.
  3. Validates.
  4. Amplifies.
  5. Stabalizes.

Lean for:

Lean for something worthwhile or all you’ll be is adversarial. Everyone may not appreciate the noble dream, but you and your team must.


Some aspects of leadership are best described with storm metaphors. You will face challenge, opposition, resistance, and criticism. Winds will blow against you. Lean in to win.

When the storms erupt:

  1. Clarify your noble dream.
  2. Surround yourself with strong people who share the dream.
  3. Lean in. It’s the only path to progress. Lean back and you’ll blow over.

Added resource:

My friend, Joe Tye, offers a webinar called Persistence and Courage. Learn this and more:

  • Three things you must change to conquer fear.
  • The Ten Laws of Adversity.
  • A simple formula for mental toughness in the face of adversity.

What have you learned about the “leaning in” side of leadership?