Living Leadership: A Practical Guide for Ordinary Heroes

Living Leadership: A Practical Guide for Ordinary Heroes

Authors: Colin Williams, Gerhard Wilke, George Binney
Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall
Pages: 264
Price: £19.99
ISBN: 0-2736-9374-3

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Don’t let the humdrum title Living Leadership put you off from reading any further. While there are probably as many books on leadership as there are bad leaders, this one has a new spin on an old theme.

The clue is in the subtitle: A practical guide for ordinary heroes. The book is about how anyone can become a good leader – not just those with extraordinary powers.

According to the book’s authors Binney, Wilke and Williams, the ‘super hero’ leader has had his day. Traditional management models assume that leaders should be charismatic transformers, but this is an ideal that few real people can live up to. It is a relief to hear there is a new, more human way of leading.

The first step is to ‘get connected’, which means giving up the idea that the leaders are ‘on top’. If they are in the middle, they can work things out with the group around them. Equally important is the context; leaders need to assess their current situation and recognise realistic possibilities.

Continuing the theme of working with what you have, the book recommends that we seek to understand ourselves better and get to know our ‘demons’, as it is our imperfections that make us interesting. It argues that leaders have to be real, available and vulnerable for people to connect with them.

Living Leadership is not just a new book on theory, it is a practical guide, and each chapter has a reflection summary to help the reader apply its approach to their own work.

Section headings in trendy lower case mean they don’t stand out as such, but otherwise, it is a clearly written book, with some fun illustrations and inspirational quotes thrown into the mix as well.

Sally Hart is director of compensation and benefits at ArvinMeritor


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