This week’s book review
Are Leaders Born or Are They Made? The
Case of Alexander the Great
Author: Manfred FR Kets de Vries,
with Elisabet Engellau
This is a short and very different addition to the usual offering of
leadership books. It reflects the individual style of its main author, Manfred Kets de Vries, who is one of the
field’s leading academics.
The book is a game of two halves. The first half contains a pacey and believable biographical account of Alexander the
Great. The second is a psychological analysis of Alexander and the foundations
of his leadership success.
I found the first part easy to read. However, the second changes character
and quickly becomes heavy and academic. Even those with a psychology background
may struggle and most readers would probably appreciate more explanation of the
psychodynamic models used to analyse and explain Alexander’s leadership style.
I would have appreciated more integration between the biographical material
and the analysis rather than the two being so separate. I also found that the
application of the analysis to modern-day leadership principles was far too
short and rushed to do the book justice.
It is an original and fascinating take on more traditional approaches to
studying leadership. It would make good supplementary case study material.
Well written? ****
Value for money? ***
By Lyn Stansfield,
HR consultant and business coach