September 15th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
Unfortunately, reading hundreds of books on the same topic means there is seldom something really new—fresh, exciting, revolutionary that uplifts the entire genre.
The last such surprise for me came several years ago in the writings of Steve Farber. But now, finally, comes another great addition to the leadership genre: Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward.
Their subtitle, “Mastering the Five Levels of Influence,” sounds like typical management book fare, but it isn’t.
Each level is vital, well-taught and interesting, and together they form a truly revolutionary model for leadership.
This is not exaggeration—this book is excellent! I rank it right along with the best of Drucker, Bennis, Blanchard, Gerber, Collins, Deming, and Farber. It is destined to be a classic.
Brady and Woodward teach that everyone will be called upon for leadership at some point in their life.
They then turn leadership upon its head, noting that while many people seek leadership for the perceived benefits of power, control, or perks, the true life of a leader is actually built upon
“…giving power (empowering)…helping others fix problems…and serving others. Leaders lead for the joy of creating something bigger than themselves.”
This follows Greenleaf’s tradition of servant leadership, but with a twist.
Launching a Leadership Revolution shines because it gets into the specific work of leadership. It outlines many pages of work leaders must do, and explains which work to focus on most.
But the book seldom uses the word “work”, instead preferring the active “working.” Just the list of “working” items for leaders is worth more than the price of the book.
Maybe the best thing about this book is the authors’ ability to take traditional, classic leadership basics and give them new, profound definitions.
For example, the definition of learn goes from the old “a leader is always learning” to “a leader must be able to learn from anyone.”
Imagine the leadership revolution that would occur if top executives and government officials really did seek to learn from everyone!
Another example: The meaning of perform is transformed from “please your boss” or “improve the bottom line” to “persevere through failure to find success.”
This is the best definition of leadership performance I’ve ever read in print. And the book teaches the reader how to do it.
Likewise, the advice to develop others as leaders moves beyond all the clichés to become “learn to trust your people.” It includes fitting them to be truly trustworthy.
That’s what leadership should be– but seldom is even considered.
There are many other examples. This book is a revolution that builds on the best ideas and thinkers of the past by applying them in fresh new ways applicable to the information age.
We learn from case studies such as George Washington, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and many others right along with contemporary needs and challenges.
Above all, the book places leadership success squarely on the success of mentoring and gives excellent advice to mentors on how to help people bring out the leadership inside them.
Everyone serious about Leadership Education will want to read this book, and apply the principles to our learning and mentoring.
In truth, great leadership is simply using great influence for great things, and this book can help each of us do this.
In these times of government bailouts and “fixes,” it is important to remember that the American Dream never was a government program. The American Dream was a leadership revolution, where regular people chose leadership and became leaders.
This revolution is still needed today, perhaps more than ever before in history.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.