On leadership – Part 1: The radical LEAP

The Radical L.E.A.P – Steve Farber

Today I’d like to recommend a book to you that inspired me greatly. The book called The Radical L.E.A.P. (a personal lesson in extreme leadership), written by Steve Farber, is a parable that triggered me into rethinking why we do what we do. For me personal, this book was the trigger to start researching new ways of leading organizations and eventually one of the cornerstones for my believe in purpose-driven entrepreneurship as a sustainable business model. In this post I’l briefly describe some elements from the book, if you’re interested in leadership or management, you should really read it.


The main framework the book revolves around is L.E.A.P., an acronym for Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof. These 4 words are (according to Farber) the most solid base for leadership, or as he puts it: “A leader should cultivate love in order to generate energy, inspire audacity and provide proof”.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it (for you).

1. Cultivate Love

Love is the ultimate motivation. If you’re doing what you love, you’ll probably stretch your impact much further, be determined to go first and bring the perfect vibe with you that motivates others.

Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.

You will not cultivate love with big words but with actions. Show your passion, dive in head-first. Love should be your retention strategy.

2. Generate energy

Energy is a powerful source that will drive your love and motivation to heights you couldn’t imagine at first. Find out what energizes you and the people you’re working with! Remember (or discover) who you are, why you’re here, what your work is really all about… and communicate your goals with the world.

So what generates energy? Love, great ides, noble principles, interesting work, exciting challenges, compelling visions of the future… . Encourage people around you to try out their great ideas, if it didn’t work out, at least they tried (and probably learned from it as well).

A vision statement doesn’t generate energy, love does, great ideas do, principles and values do. A vision statement is usually about as energizing and memorable as a saltine cracker.

And last but not least, try connecting human-to-human again! Give up the act of the corporation versus the customer, boss versus employee,… Talk to the person behind that customer of employee and be the person you are. Stand on principles, work for a cause and allow people to judge you on your ability to live up to those principles.

3. Inspire audacity

Don’t let their beliefs become yours! Show the world what you’re capable of, show what your love for the subject can bring.

for this point, I’d like to refer to a TEDtalk by Simon Sinek (embedded below) called “How great leaders inspire action”. His point on the Wright-brothers is the exact same point Steve Farber is making (love will generate energy that will bring you the audacity to provide proof). I will discuss his book (start with why) in a post later on.

4. Provide Proof

  • Prove it to others: DWYSYWD (Do What You Say You Will Do), also called authenticity. This is the single most important thing for a company (especially if you’re a vision-driven organization). By doing what you promised in your vision, you’ll show others it’s more than a piece of paper.
  • Prove it to yourself: OS!M (Oh shit!-moment): An Oh shit!-moment is every moment where that voice in your head starts shouting oh shit. The moment you don’t hear that voice anymore, you’re not doing new stuff anymore. You’re no longer pushing your boundaries and therefore, you’re probably not taking this project to the furthest level you could.
  • Prove to others that you’re proving it to yourself: Show people you’re actually doing it, show where you messed up, show what you learned out of it, Give the audience the show they were waiting for.

About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.


  1. Thank you for introducing me to Simon Sinek! Based on that one TED talk, I’ve spent the last two hours watching more of Simon’s presentations. He makes a great deal of sense and I am now revisiting my marketing strategies.

    • I’m glad you liked the talk. I can recommend his book (start with why) and his blog (http://blog.startwithwhy.com/) as well.
      For me, Simon Sinek has translated the point that Steve Farber makes in the Radical L.E.A.P. perfectly into a workable management-tool (the golden circle).

      • bambusasolutions

        I realised while I was watching that, based on another marketing guru’s advice, my own marketing is pretty close to the mark (it’s mostly why and how, with a little bit of what).

        I have been struggling with my spoken sales pitch (the response to “so, what do you do”) because there is so much “what” in my business, it’s hard to narrow it down. I’m going to revisit that now with the golden circle in mind and try to focus on the why.

  2. Pingback: Sustainability and happiness | Keep the game, change the rules

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