From Publishers Weekly
Though the title suggests a focus on the famous General Electric CEO's many accomplishments and leadership skills, this management guide draws on the experiences of many other leaders, including Rudy Giuliani and Gen. Tommy Franks, as well as leaders in corporations like Florida Power and Light or Hearst. With intriguing chapter titles like Are You Really Jack Welch or Just Wearing His Suit? A Lack of Shaping Experiences Can Spell Disaster or Doing the Right Thing When No One is Looking: Shaping Experiences that Build Character, the book attempts to show the reader how to seek out and recognize experiences that will help in their own rise to the top. Yet many of the traits Baum focuses on, such as good character or personal courage, seem inherent and hard to develop. In addition, these shaping experiences seem difficult to seek out or even realize in the moment. While there's inspiration here, the abstract nature of these leaders' qualities may leave readers full of admiration for those who possess them, yet unsure of how to recognize and improve on these essential characteristics in their own lives. (Aug.)
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Baum is a leadership coach who works behind the scenes guiding CEOs and senior management through times of challenge and change. The more he got to know top-level executives intimately, both personally and professionally, the more he wanted to know what had shaped these men and women into great leaders. He discovered that most came from quite ordinary backgrounds and were not necessarily the smartest kids in class or destined to enter the corporate sphere. Few came from wealthy families, went to Ivy League schools, or earned MBAs. What they do share in common, however, is a pattern of life experiences he calls archetypal shaping experiences that caused them to experience exceptional personal growth leading to strong character and the confidence to seek challenges, take on risk, act when necessary, and engage and inspire others. Baum effectively digs into the character-building experiences that created such leaders as Jim Broadhead, the executive who turned around Florida Power & Light; David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue; New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Nebraska senator Bob Kerry; General Tommy Franks; and many others. Siegfried, David