The Stake: The Making of Leaders
By Henry Kimsey-House and David Skibbins

STAKE COVER IMAGE With AmazonThe Stake is a creative non-fiction exploration of the world of leadership, as experienced by five participants in a yearlong leadership training program.

The characters are fiction, but the training in Co-Active Leadership is a successful, cutting-edge approach to developing innovative leaders in business, governments, non-profits, and communities. Actual, real-life stories of some graduates of this program are woven into the text.

Over the past two decades, Henry Kimsey-House’s international leadership training organization has trained over 1,800 graduates from corporations, service organizations, government, community and non-profit settings. This training program uses the style of leadership that he helped create; Co-Active Leadership.

Today’s world requires men and women who can lead from their vision, their passion, and their deepest sense of purpose. These new leaders respect the preciousness of life. They know how to call forth the resourcefulness and creativity of those they lead. They hold a deep belief in their own capacity to change their world for the better.

The Stake calls people to move beyond focusing on good management skills and obsessing about the bottom line. Above all, leaders need to know what they are passionate about. They need to know what strengths and skills they can call upon to move that passion into reality. They need to have a full range of expression and highly attuned emotional intelligence to draw upon in any moment.

Leaders need to know how to create connection and intimacy: one-on-one, with groups, teams, companies, communities and even with nations. These leaders need to know how to read and manage the emotional energy of individuals and groups. They need to know how to be aware of and take responsibility for their impact on the individuals, teams, companies and the organizations that they lead. They need to know how to lead from their purpose and mission instead of from their ego. And finally, they need to believe in life, humanity and themselves; in that order. This book is about the development of authentic, responsible leaders.


William Shakespeare wrote, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” That is true of leadership also. Sooner or later we all have leadership thrust upon us. It may be an employee, a team, a family member, or an organization in your community, but eventually you will have to lead someone. Eventually, everyone gets called upon to stand up and say, “Follow me.” If it is your turn to step up and lead, then this book will teach you how to lead with fire.

 Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City when terrorists flew airliners into the World Trade Center. He was already there on the street when the second plane hit. For most of the next twenty-four hours, he was at the site, or touring hospitals, comforting families, or broadcasting to reassure his constituency and all Americans. We needed his intensity when he said, “Tomorrow New York is going to be here. And we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before. I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.” That was passionate leadership.

 This book is about how you can become a passionate leader. We titled this book The Stake because we believe that a leader with a passionate Stake is unstoppable. Your Stake, as a leader, is a concise, compelling statement of why you are leading the people you lead. It expresses your willingness to put everything on the line, your vision, and your passionate commitment to an outcome.

 You drive a stake into the ground, and it holds up whatever you attach to it. As a leader, you are tethered to your Leader’s Stake so that it becomes the orientation point for everything you do. If you begin to stray away from the Stake, the Stake itself is so compelling and it is planted so firmly that it pulls you back on course. Mayor Giuliani had a Stake: “New York City and America are stronger and greater than a handful of criminal terrorists!” The authors of this book have a Stake: “This book will inspire leaders to create change and transformation in the world.”