The Substance of Leadership

A Practical Framework for Effectively Leading a High-Performing Team

Take Your Team to the Next Level

The Substance of Leadership is a concise and practical guide that teaches you how to lead a high-performing team. Based on more than three decades of experience with high-performing teams operating in high-pressure environments from aircraft carriers to combat to TOPGUN to the business world, Dave Robinson takes you on an experiential journey distilling the complexities of leadership into a simple, enduring framework that will maximize your leadership effectiveness. Filled with practical tools, real-world examples, and engaging stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this book is a must-read for any leader who wants to elevate their team’s performance to the next level.

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What Readers Are Saying

“The concepts of Culture, People, and Mission are timeless principles for leading every organization regardless of scale. The Substance of Leadership is a must-read for every purpose-driven leader looking to build a high-performing team. Dave has nailed it through this enduring framework for success given his distinguished career of leadership and serving our country.”

The Substance of Leadership is the most applicable and practical guide on leadership I’ve read in recent years. Dave Robinson provides a new lens, beyond just theory, to build your leadership style for real world effectiveness, while blending personal stories with practical examples. This is a must-read for any established or aspiring leader looking to take their leadership to the next level.”

“Having worked directly with Dave to implement a leadership program based on the framework in The Substance of Leadership, I know first-hand the power of Dave’s advice and insights. Any leader aspiring to elevate the performance of their team or organization should have a copy of this book. I wish I had it years earlier in my career.”

“One of the best leadership books I have read. Both inspiring and insightful, The Substance of Leadership should be required reading by every leader across every industry. Clear, concise, effective, David Robinson has written an entertaining and engaging book full of captivating personal leadership anecdotes. He’s distilled over three decades of high-performance leadership experience into a blueprint for how you, regardless of position, can lead a high-performing team.”

“Dave Robinson’s The Substance of Leadership is a stunning front line tour of leadership in our time. Devotedly researched and brilliantly written, it is complete, concise, and sparkling with practical examples and inspirational stories. A true handbook, it is written to do real work, living dogeared in the briefcase, carry-on, and top drawer of everyone who feels the weight and passion of being a leader today.”

“Colonel Robinson’s, The Substance of Leadership, stands head-and-shoulders above all the other leadership books I have read. It is a wonderfully guided experiential journey through the in-and-outs of leadership. His true-life stories will have you on the edge of your seat; his distilled wisdom speaks to everyday issues that leaders confront; and the put-into-practice-today applications will make you a front-runner. Instill his People, Culture, Mission approach and I promise you will develop as a better, more confident leader.”

“Colonel Dave Robinson, USMC (Ret) has written an exceptional ‘how to’ on leadership – something I believe he is eminently qualified to write about. Dave earned a sterling reputation as a fighter pilot, thinker and doer throughout his career – but it was his leadership that truly stood out to me. Thoughtful, principled, hands-on servant leadership was something Dave gave to his Marines and their families every day. It was a joy and an honor to serve alongside him. Anyone can benefit from reading this book – myself included.  I enthusiastically recommend it.”

“I have known Dave Robinson almost 40 years and observed him as a Naval Academy midshipman, a Marine Corps officer, and an entrepreneur and consultant. I can state unequivocally that Dave is an exceptional leader and has practiced and demonstrated all the principles presented in this book. I am grateful he has taken the time to share his knowledge, experience, and wisdom to help others lead with character, competence, and composure. Corporate, public, non-profit, military, academic, and athletic leaders would all be well-served by reading, studying, and applying the leadership framework presented in The Substance of Leadership. With Dave showing the way, this practical book has the potential to transform ordinary leaders and organizations into extraordinary ones!”

Ten percent of net proceeds will be donated to the Semper Fi & America’s Fund, which provides urgently needed resources and lifetime support for combat wounded, critically ill, and catastrophically injured service members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Case managers work one-on-one with service members and Veterans  to understand and support their individual needs right now and throughout their lifetimes. The Fund keeps its overhead exceptionally low in order to have the greatest impact on the lives of Veterans and their families, and has been awarded the highest ratings from watchdog groups: A+ from CharityWatch (one of only two Veteran nonprofits to receive their highest rating), a Charity Navigator 4-star rating for ten consecutive years (an achievement attained by only 2% of rated charities), and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. Learn more at