Leading in Turbulent Times

Author: Kevin Kelly and Gary E. Hayes
ISBN: 0273727532

This book sets out its stall early on – there’s a hefty quotation from early 20th century US president Theodore Roosevelt before you so much as reach the contents page. But don’t let that put you off. And try not to be too dismayed by the ‘too clever for their own good’ section headings: ‘The perfect chair’, ‘Nimble giants’ and ‘Feeling good, doing good, having fun’ spring to mind.

You’ll pick up this book, and before you start reading, you’ll be impressed by its structure. Just seeing that the authors have split the content into bite-sized chunks will make you more likely to read it. As will the paragraph-long chapter summaries – how often do you see those?

So we know it’s a well put together offering. But what about the content? It’s based on a series of interviews with business leaders, and the first thing you’ll notice is that the authors are evidently well connected. They’ve spoken to everyone from the chief executive of McDonald’s to the chairman of M&S. Look at the dust jacket, and you’ll see why their address books are so valuable. Kelly is chief executive of global search firm Heidrick and Struggles, while Hayes is managing partner and co-founder of human capital consultancy Hayes Brunswick and Partners. But they use their contacts well.

I liked the introduction – rather than the usual dedications, the authors used it to explain the aim of the book, and the concept of turbulence in a business context.

While there are some facts and figures, mainly in the form of research findings or survey results, the book really is what its authors say it is – a series of interviews with the great and the good of the business community. And unlike many books of its kind, this one really does deliver from a global viewpoint – the insights of Japanese, Korean and Indian chief executives were especially interesting.

Whether you enjoy it will depend very much on how much you like this style of book. I doubt anyone will sit down and read it from cover, but if you are a fan of business books, you may well want to dip into it from time to time. The clear structure will make that easier, while the recommended reading at the end of each chapter may be the beginning of a more in-depth look at a particular topic.

Reviewed by Tara Craig

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