posted 28 Jan 2008 in Volume 11 Issue 5
Book Review - Launching a leadership revolution: Mastering the five levels of influence
Reviewed by Lucy McNulty
THROUGHOUT HISTORY, the ability to lead effectively has been heralded as the key to success in almost any discipline involving the management of others. Indeed, from past to present day the actions of those who possess the ability to direct and inspire others have been examined and discussed in the hope that those of us who lack this much-desired talent can determine, and perhaps emulate, the secrets of good leadership. E-commerce giant Amazon alone lists over 20,000 books dedicated to discussion of leadership.
With so much dialogue available on the topic, one would be forgiven in assuming Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward’s latest, and initially self-published, offering – Launching a Leadership Revolution: Mastering the Five Levels of Influence – is just another addition to the seemingly unending theoretical discussion of an elusive concept. The authors, however, are quick to refute this assumption. “The material presented here is not theory, but rather real-life experience from the perspective of two businessmen who must live it everyday,” write the authors. “We have experienced much... and would have been helped significantly along the way had the information in these pages been available in this form.”
Contending that each of us will eventually be thrust into a moment requiring leadership skills, Brady and Woodward introduce material intended to prepare us to perform when this opportunity to lead arises. Throughout, ideas are strengthened by anecdotes or ?real-life experiences’, presented as a comprehensive mix of examples of good leadership from the past as well as from the world of business, and comments on what constitutes successful leadership from famous leaders and authors of other leadership guides.
“[Winston] Churchill assembled a very effective War Cabinet and efficiently increased the ability of his nation to produce war munitions and equipment,” reads one such anecdote. “The result was that Churchill’s
Later it is Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s Corporation, who is singled out to demonstrate another aspect of successful leadership: “If a great idea for a burger like the Big Mac was initiated by a certain store in his franchise chain, he would encourage the testing of the idea in that owner’s store... A leader should be open to learning new ideas, no matter the source.”
The constant repetition of such examples, although going some way towards demonstrating what defines a successful leader and the qualities needed to fulfil the role, also succeed in confusing the reader, with quotes on leadership from sources as diverse as Mark Twain and golfer Tiger Woods often appearing three or four times a paragraph.
Furthermore, frequent references to new theories, which (contrary to the authors’ initial protestations) appear consistently alongside their 'real-life experiences’; repetition of awkward metaphors and truisms (for example, driving against the “traffic of mediocrity” and “success is always located on the other side of inconvenience”); and various, diagrams littering the discussion all succeed in largely distracting the reader from what is essentially an interesting and in-depth insight into the concept of effective leadership. In fact, the authors appear at times to get so carried away with the discussion and explanation of their concepts, it becomes difficult not to feel bombarded with theory.
Yet, if you can see past the distractions, it is clear the concepts presented in Launching a Leadership Revolution are both innovative and accessible. From the 'Trilateral Leadership Ledger’, which addresses the three categories of personal effectiveness (character, tasks and relationships) and the 'three Hs’ (hungry, hone-able and honourable) which form the raw material of leadership to the 'the five levels of influence’, which provide guidance to developing leadership influence and, as the authors assert, are the “way to map the journey of a leader from beginning to crowning achievement”, the ideas expressed by Brady and Woodward are numerous and all-encompassing. Any potential leader, whether of a country, corporation, small business or department, would struggle not to benefit from this educational and informative contribution to the discussion.