Worth keeping in the briefcase
September 7, 2007
I normally shy away from the platitudes and punditry of self-help and business “rules, tools, & tips”, but I saw this book in the uniform sales shop that serves the US Special Operations Command,right next to War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare, and I could not resist.
This little volume will join The Astonished Universe, a French-English side by side poetry book that celebrates life, in my travel briefcase.
I write this sitting by the window of an old estate in Provance, France, while attending a retreat with four others active in the Collective Intelligence movement. I bought it primarily because it was on sale in the bookstore that serves the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Written by a sports writer and producer in partnership with a pastor, it provides the reader with 52 segments, each consisting of a quotation from scripture, and then a two page double-spaced discussion. I found this book over-all to be thoughtful and practical and not at all “preachy.”
The authors immediately drew me in, non-practicing believer that I am, by stating up front that this little guide was a means of discovering and/or reintroducing Jesus to your life. That did it for me, I'm ready.
The book opens with an emphasis on truth as the most important element of both faith and performance, then surprised me by emphasizing that how a leader is perceived is something the leader can never hear too much of.
The authors are at one with Peter Drucker is saying that the best lives are those in which the person is deeply enmeshed in a “calling” and striving to please and serve God while being faithful to their own talents and visions, accountable to others, but never subservient to others.
They distinguish between management, which pays people to follow orders, and leadership, which inspires others to work selflessly in harmony with others. They emphasize that leadership is personal, not at all removed or elitist. One segment stresses the importance of breaking bread with those you seek to lead. At this retreat that I am on, the food–vegetarian and the basics–bread, oil, fruit–is being treated as a spiritual celebration in its own right, so I would add that it is not just breaking bread, but doing so in communion with the Earth that gave us the food, and with one another who seek to save the Earth for future generations.
Among the many bullets that I noted:
* Leaders are disciplined in time management
* Leaders use prayer as reflection
* Leaders are teachers, and can teach under all circumstances including hostile
* Enduring leaders are compassionate
* Diversity is good for team building
* Core values are enduring, but in practice adaptation is essential
* Speak to the masses but nurture an inner core of future leaders
* Understand the importance of strategic withdrawals and pauses
* Setting for major announcements or intense dialogs are important–airport hotels are pedestrian, retreats with memorable environments enhance and nurture the intentions and goals
* Chapter 23 was special for me, after 20 years of dealing with opponents who refused to acknowledge the importance of open sources of information that could be shared: the chapter tells us that visionaries *will* be considered lunatic, even within their own families. This is precisely what happened to me in 1992 when I published an article in Whole Earth Review on the need to create a new national intelligence paradigm that was ethical, ecological, evolutionary, and based on open sources of information instead of stolen secrets. The chapter tells us that the price of leadership (whether direct, of men, or indirect, of ideas) is the willingness to bear with persistent pain and rejection in the face of disbelief and constant attack.
* In a separate chapter, the authors tell us that many will know *of* the leader, but very few will really know who the leader truly is.
* Expect to be unappreciated, but avoid sharing too much too soon.
* Know when to move on, and prepare your successors, encouraging them to move into the world “two by two” so they can reinforce one another and learn from one another.
The book ends with the observation that to be strong is to be in faith, and that in praising God, we should be all we can be within his larger framework.
There are many other lessons and anecdotes in this volume, and I recommend it highly.
Other leadership books I have read and reviewed:
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
Building a Knowledge-Driven Organization
The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present
The exemplar: The exemplary performer in the age of productivity
Leading Minds: An Anatomy Of Leadership
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future