Recently, Petra Coach hosted a webinar, “Unconventional Leadership: The ‘Not-Normal’ Response Needed in Times of Global Crisis” featuring David Rendall.

The content is invaluable to leaders during this unprecedented time.

You can find the full recording here.

To augment the recording, we noted takeaways and quotes from his session. The slides used in the presentation are also downloadable HERE.


What do we do when things look bleak? We lay people off, cut costs and find ways to save money. If you knew that things were going to be looking up in the future, would you still make those decisions?

We can learn what is going to happen in the future by the way things have gone in the past. Things go poorly, and then they go well again, and then it repeats. What separates the people that succeed is based on the decisions they make during these times. What you can do is think differently from what the normal approach during this time would be.

  • Take advantage of the good workers that are out there and hire the ones that have been laid off
  • Invest in your current team and train them up while you have the time

Elon Musk

  • A prime example of unconventional leadership
  • What we can learn from him…


Be Alert

Whether or not you share his beliefs, the main point is that he is not complacent.

  • His concerns about climate change are what make him believe we need to be prepared for what’s next
  • He runs Tesla in order to make the money that will take us to Mars
  • He is looking for solutions, not just sitting around

This is something the effective leaders need to do.

“The #1 reason companies don’t change is because of a lack or urgency.” – John Connor, “Leading Change”

“The farther backward we can look, the farther forward we are likely to see.”  – Winston Churchill

We learn from the past and see patterns that will show us what is going to happen in the future


  • The changes in the Dow throughout history

Unconventional leaders are looking for those patters to predict the future and see what is coming next. From history, we can learn how our world has evolved and solved challenges that were once thought to be impossible because there was someone who thought outside the box and went with it.


  • Long distance communication was solved with the Telegraph and has evolved into the Internet
  • Wireless Electricity – Electricity in roads to power electric buses
  • Vinyl sales went down but they have since gone back up even with digital streaming because there is something tangible and interesting about actual Vinyl that people can’t let go of. Things don’t always move forward; they also move around.
  • Handwritten notes are still important and cherished

“The more high-tech our society gets, the more people value human touch. – John Naisbitt, “High Tech, High Touch”


Be Brave

  • Elon took all of his money and invested into a new company, he didn’t put it into a savings account or a vacation home
  • Even when it was doubted, he invested in it
  • He has shown courage, and people follow him because he puts his money where his mouth is

Right now we are seeing a push towards hand washing…

  • Yet, in the 1800s, a Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis promoted hand washing in hospital operating rooms that reduced the mortality rate from 35% to 1%
  • This conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time, and his ideas were rejected by the medical community
  • This resulted in people still not washing their hands
  • Even when you’re right and it works, you are going to be unpopular if your ideas go against the norm

When you do things in an unconventional fashion, you’re going to get pushback.

“Deviance will always generate external pressures to conform. If you preform beyond the norms, the systems will adjust and try to make you normal.” – Robert Quinn, “Deep Change”

Gandhi was loved by so many people and also hated by so many people. If we want to be successful, we have to be different, and if we want to be different, we have to be brave.

“Great spirits have always experienced violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein

The more influence you have, the more suffering you will have – suffering is tied to influence and leadership. There is no way to minimize sacrifice or suffering while also having influence.

Great Leaders:

  • Gandhi
  • Jesus
  • MLK
  • Abe Lincoln

All of these people were killed, and what do we learn about leadership from that?

  • Great leaders endure suffering. Terrible leaders inflict suffering.
  • Continue to pay your employees instead of thinking of yourself, the leader, first
  • Think about what are you willing to sacrifice

Michael Burry made money during the 2008 recession.

“To succeed in a spectacular fashion, you have to be spectacularly unusual.” – Michael Burry, Scion Capital

Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway, has also succeeded. Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.

To do this:

  • Put money in savings
  • Pay off debt
  • Cut back on spending a bit

When no one has money, you will then have money to spend. When everyone else panics, you will move in. When everyone lays off people, you will hire them. In other words, do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Think about preparing for the next time this happens. Have things in place and be optimistic – don’t be complacent.

“You become excellent because you are doing things that normal people do not want to do.” – Robert Quinn, “Deep Change”

“Great companies are among the first to try the outlandish, the different, the radical.” – Jim Collins, “Good to Great”

Think about:

  • What does everyone in your industry do?
  • How could you do the opposite?

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don’t be looking for what people want to hear – mold people’s ideas of what our society should look like in the future.


Be Inspiring

  • Elon Musk is inspiring people to be astronauts and giving them something to be excited about
  • Tell your people it’s not going to easy, but it’s going to be worth it
  • We talk about the suffering, but we don’t talk about the meaning
  • Our sense of perseverance increases as our purpose increases

Example: Team Hoyt

  • Dick Hoyt’s son Rick was born with his umbilical cord around his neck and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy
  • Dick started running marathons while pushing Rick in a wheelchair and eventually completed Ironmen with Rick alongside him
  • Someone asked Dick, “Wouldn’t it be easier if you didn’t have to carry or push Rick?”
  • His response would be no, and that if you took his son out of the equation, it was not even worth doing
  • It is meaningful for his son

“In times of crisis, we think that we need bold and daring decisions from our leaders, but we don’t. We need humility.” – Malcom Gladwell

Humility causes us to be alert. We need someone to say that this might not work, or this might not be right. Otherwise you won’t take risks and won’t do things that are different.

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the truly great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

Do we think that our company, society or people have the ability to become great? Are we feeling and acting small, pushing people down, or are we lifting people up?


Be Different

We as humans have a tendency not to change unless there is pain. So, what is the next pain and how do we get ready for that? Change your mindset of playing defense to also play offense.