Authors: George Manning and Kent Curtis

Publisher: McGraw-Hill – 503 pages

Book Review by: Paiso Jamakar

This book takes a look at leadership in nine basic ways. It discusses various aspects, attributes, mandates, powers, qualities and responsibilities of leadership.

Among other things, it takes a look at basic leadership principles and variables, its power of vision, the importance of ethics in leadership, how it empowers people, understanding followers, multiplying leadership effectiveness, developing leaders, and last but not the least, managing leadership performance.

The above paragraph is a summary of this book’s single-page contents in brief. The topics and sub-topics in its 20 chapters spanning over 500 pages are detailed in its regular table of contents. This is for those who want to read about a specific topic or want answers to particular questions.

This book focuses on leadership in businesses and why good leadership, especially in larger organizations, is important to success, however that success is measured. Its unique value is that it is not just an exposition of behavior theory but actual practical application of theory with the purpose of helping readers learn important leadership principles and acquire skills through practice.

Through involvement and participation in exercises, personal development and self-improvement is facilitated. This helps people gain self-confidence and improve their performance at work and in social situations.

The book presents case studies as ways of learning. It provides problems to people who have been promoted and have earned leadership positions. For example in the teams of these new leaders are some difficult people – people who exhibit behaviors that are undesirable and make the leaders look bad in the eyes of upper management.

In the case studies, the leaders are challenged to motivate the difficult people to change their behaviors for the common good of all – their team members, their supervisors and their supervisors’ bosses. The book offers these leaders knowledge about leadership and its many attributes, as well as examples of leaders in history (such as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King) who were admired, respected and loved, and became very effective.

The book is very well organized, making for easier learning. In each chapter are topics of learning. Below the topic heading is brief description or explanation of the topic, usually just a paragraph or two. Then, exercises are presented, wherein you rate yourself from one to ten.

For example, in chapter 2, you are asked, at the end of the first topic, to give yourself a score on six traits of leadership: need for achievement, intelligence, decisiveness, self-confidence, initiative and supervising ability.  Then you total up your score and interpret it as “very good,” “good,” or “needs improvement.”

The second topic in the chapter is then presented and this sequence – topic heading, brief explanation, exercises, scoring, and interpretation. Because the book is interactive – with reading, understanding what you have read, followed by exercises that involve making choices, totaling up your score and making a self-assessment, learning to become a leader becomes easier. In this process, motivation is instilled in you to become a leader.

The authors use many different material-presentation methods that make it easier for readers to read comprehend the lessons in their book. At the outset, their clever use of a one-page “Contents in Brief” gives the reader a sort of bird’s eye view of the entire material in the book.

But the book’s actual Contents page (which follows “Contents in Brief”) details the material in nearly five full pages. This enables the reader to go straight to the topic he is most interested in at any given time. The use of many teaching tools such as bullet points, case studies, charts, enumerations, exercises, questions with lines and space provided for answers enable the reader to learn faster.

When you think about good leaders, what qualities do you think about? Do you think about caring, charisma, commanding presence, commitment, compassion, confidence, courage, creativity?  These are some of the characteristics of leadership discussed in this book. How would rate yourself on having these traits on a scale of one to ten? Would you like to acquire some of these traits to make yourself a better person? Get the book.

This book, using many sources such as business, education, history and politics, shows you what leadership is, and the many characteristics good leaders possess. It helps you evaluate yourself in terms of leadership attributes you believe you have and rate yourself on each one. It enables you to acquire these qualities.  This process can help you gain self-confidence to speak, act like and become a leader.

George Manning and Kent Curtis have developed an excellent book. I strongly recommend that you acquire it. The material presented in it, when read, understood, and learned in the right portions, can help you become a leader, or become a better, more effective one.

You can acquire self-esteem and become a better communicator after learning the basic principles of leadership covered in this book. Speaking from experience, I say to you that better communication skills empower you to write and achieve your goals more quickly.