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Book review Shades of Leadership

Why I Chose this Book?

‘Shades of Leadership’ by Thomas Smith was declared Finalist for 2013 USA Best Book Award. The book consists of essays which are relevant to the leaders of today. The reason to choose this book is that this book takes an unorthodox look at the leadership. Smith has explained leadership as an activity, rather than in-born ability. This book provides meaningful approach and practical examples of leadership, for those who want to be effective leaders.

Overview of the Book

This book is a career oriented informative and fun, and attracting for those who want to become better leaders. This book is especially helpful tool for those who want to improve on their leadership knowledge and skills while working in the communities and non-profit groups. This book provides an insight on leadership by emphasizing that leadership can be achieved and anyone can achieve this. This book also gives an outline for those who are looking for the guidelines of how to become a good leader. Many different kinds of leaders now exist in this world and this book helps one to identify what kind of leader he is and why people should follow him. Key terms and ideas relevant to leadership discussed in this book are teamwork, collaboration, character and authenticity.

‘Ah-ha’ moments

“Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humanness, courage and discipline… When one has all five virtues together, each appropriate to its function, than one can be a leader.” (p 2)

“Authentic expression is a delicate subject for many leaders. It is rare that leaders admit readily that they lack some degree of integrity. Likewise, it is rare that leaders have complete integrity in all parts of their lives. Integrity goes far beyond the truth. Integrity means complete congruence between who we are and what we do. It is a formidable goal and most of us will spend our lifetime on the path to getting there.” (p 10)

“My definition of leadership is being able to: inspire others, motivate, set a vision, communicate, respect others, and lead by example.” (p 28)

How this book challenges current thinking?

This book is motivation for those who want something like visionary and sustainable leadership. This book views leadership as more human phenomenon and the one which can be taught and learned. Author being on a role of leader in Federal Government and community organizations, provides more generic approach on how to become a good leader. This book is especially useful for business personnel interested in career building, entrepreneurs, and emerging leaders to improve individual skills and knowledge. It is not like other books, and literature which views leaders as someone different from general people and ‘leadership’ as something different from human traits. According to some literature in leadership, leadership is only in-born ability but Smith has view it differently. This is what makes this book different, and better than any other literature on leadership.

Real time application

First ‘Ah-ha’ moment I mentioned was taken in this book from a book “The art of war” by Sun Tzu. According to this quote, anyone can be a good and competent leader in any kind of work place if he possesses five virtues, which are intelligence, trustworthiness, humanness, courage and discipline. The best thing about these virtues is that they quite humanly to achieve and anyone can achieve them very easily and become a better leader.

Second ‘Ah-ha’ moment I chose to mention here is the fact that leaders are also humans and it is possible that they might find themselves in confusion and sometimes in trouble on some issues. One can be a born-leader but it takes time and experience to make him a better leader. As the author mentions, it takes whole lifetimes to find integrity in life. It is difficult for a leader to find the integrity in real terms. If we want to apply this in a work place, it is important to give leader sometime to acquire some experience and develop and polish his skills to become a good leader.

Third ‘Ah-ha’ moment I selected to mention here was that leadership is nothing more than being a human who has the capabilities to inspire others, motivate, set a vision, communicate, respect others and lead by example. One thing to emphasize here is that every individual possesses one or more of these qualities, but to become a better leader, one must be having these qualities simultaneously, which is no impossible. Another which is very important for leaders in a workplace is to lead by example. One best way of teaching his followers about how to do a specific task is by setting an example of his own, to make them realize that their leader is actually one of them. If he can do it, they all can do it.

Overview of the Book

This book is a career oriented informative and fun, and attracting for those who want to become better leaders. This book is especially helpful tool for those who want to improve on their leadership knowledge and skills while working in the communities and non-profit groups. This book provides an insight on leadership by emphasizing that leadership can be achieved and anyone can achieve this. This book also gives an outline for those who are looking for the guidelines of how to become a good leader. Many different kinds of leaders now exist in this world and this book helps one to identify what kind of leader he is and why people should follow him. Key terms and ideas relevant to leadership discussed in this book are teamwork, collaboration, character and authenticity.

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