- Paperback: 136 pages
- Publisher: WingSpan Press (April 20, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1595940553
- ISBN-13: 978-1595940551
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,777,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Leadership: Best Advice I Ever Got Paperback – April 20, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Paul B. Thornton was inspired to develop this book after reading an article called "The Best Advice I Ever Got" in the March 21, 2005 issue of Fortune magazine. He contacted many leaders and leadership experts to find out their answers. Then, he compiled 137 responses in this fine book.
The advice in the book addresses important topics like:
1. What do you stand for?
2. What are your core values?
3. What is your mission?
4. What is your vision?
5. What is the best way to communicate?
6. What is the best way to influence others?
7. How can you enhance your presence?
8. What is a good leadership style for you?
Mr. Thornton kicks off the book with a definition of what leadership is: "Leadership is the process of helping individuals, teams, and organizations become more and achieve more than they ever thought possible."
"Leaders help people become more . . .
Leaders help people achieve more than success!"
To lead, he suggests that you have to have ideas, conviction, courage, confidence, decisiveness, connection skills, good communication talents, passion, enthusiasm, persuasiveness and an ability to execute.
Business CEOs quoted in the book include:
William H. Swanson, Raytheon
Klaus Kleinfeld, Siemens
Richard J. Faubert, AmberWave Systems
Anne Mulcahy, Xerox
Cordia Harrington, Tennessee Bun Company
Well-known authors quoted in the book include:
Bill Jensen, Simplicity
Robert Sutton, The Knowing-Doing Gap
Marshall Goldberg, The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching
Margaret Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science
David Cottrell, Monday Morning Leadership
Oren Harari, The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell
Ken Shelton, ghostwriter of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The list is also seasoned with deans, people who have founded non-profit organizations, leadership coaches, sports coaches, professors and ordinary people with extraordinary insights.
In Part Three, Mr. Thornton summarizes his own advice on all of these areas to integrate the individual lessons.
Filled with enough epiphanies to transform almost every life on Earth, I highly recommend that you read, re-read and apply what you learn from this remarkable resource!
Thornton conducted his own research among 135 people who shared the best advice they had received in helping them to become effective leaders. He added to their responses excerpts from among comments by Klaus Kleinfeld and Anne Mulcahy in the original Fortune article, "The Best Advice I Ever Got." Then Thornton added five chapters that comprise Part Three of his book. In these concluding chapters, he offers his own advice to those who want to become effective leaders. The result is the book I now review.
At the outset, I need to point out that the 137 contributors offer no head-snapping revelations concerning leadership; indeed, much of the advice they received - and share - is so familiar that it now seems obvious and simplistic. Have a clear and bold vision, work hard, stay focused, be patient but persistent, get others involved and help them to develop their own strengths, etc. (The last time I checked, Amazon and Borders offer 40,889 books on the subject of leadership.) The value of this book is derived from advice that, more often than not, offers reassurance of what most readers probably know already rather than from the provision of new insights. The material is anecdotal and personal as contributors reflect and reminisce. A number of contributors cite leadership by example (e.g. parents, other relatives, coaches, clergy, and senior-level executives as role models) rather than leadership by admonition. The names of most of the contributors were previously unfamiliar to me.
Here are two excerpts. First, comments by Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy when recalling advice she once received from Albert C. Black, Jr. "When everything gets really complicated and you feel overwhelmed, think about this way: you gotta do three things. First, get the cow out of the ditch. Second, find out how the cow got in the ditch. Third, make sure you do whatever it takes so the cow doesn't go in the ditch again."
Another company CEO, Donald W. Mitchell, recalls asking Peter Drucker to identify the best single measure of corporate performance for improving stock price. "Young man, there is no single measure of corporate performance that is any good. You should use all of them...and try to find more."
Thornton concludes the final chapter with his own advice: "Perhaps the most important competency for leaders is to keep unfolding - becoming more and more authentic, principled, focused, clear, and influential. Even after achieving great success the top leaders are open to new ideas. They keep discovering and reinventing their leadership message and style.
"Be the Leader, Make the Difference!"
Had Thornton eliminated repetitions among the contributions and required those who provided advice to place it within a more fully developed context, I would have rated this book higher. As is, it is certainly worth reading. Presumably several readers will obtain advice that can help them to become more effective leaders, and, to help others to do so, also.
Those who find this book valuable are encouraged to check out the aforementioned Fortune: Secrets of Greatness as well as two books written by Tom Butler-Bowdon: 50 Business Classics and 50 Self-Help Classics. I also strongly recommend Michael Ray's The Highest Goal and James O'Toole's Creating the Good Life.