The production of silver bullets—panaceas—is a growth industry. New books, all claiming to contain "the" answer, appear in the bookstores almost daily. Sadly, many are far more self-indulgent than helpful to the reader. Yet we lap them up, as we search for ways to be more effective in our professional and personal lives.
I've become a bit jaundiced by the self-help gravy-train of late, however one of the books from my summer reading list has restored my faith somewhat: History Lessons: what business and management can learn from the great leaders of history. Jonathan Gifford, the author, asserts that there is no one model leadership model or kind of leader that can hope to be effective in all situations. Leadership is a complex phenomenon, and different attributes need to come to the fore in different situations. What a breath of fresh air.
Gifford identifies eight skills and abilities that represent many of the essential things that any leader should be able to do and—ideally—be good at. He uses great leaders from history (not all of whom will be well known in the Western world) to illustrate his points.
The book is easy to read. I commend it as a great investment, to aspiring and established leaders. But be warmed: it will make you think about your current leadership situation.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.