Let me declare an interest. I picked up this title as a mild sceptic. My shelves are loaded with similar sounding offerings - many with their spines uncracked. I'm putting this one aside now, coffee-stained, having been able to spend some absorbing time with a succession of fascinating characters inhabiting a rarefied corporate stratosphere. In its compact pages I found both space and oxygen enough to breathe and, importantly, to reflect a little myself.
The central construct of the book is powerful - the way leaders think defines them and drives all their complex behaviours - when we see their hands working and their lips moving, we need to follow their mind's dance. The essential substance of the book is well covered in reviews here and it its various promotional blurbs elsewhere. For me, the five ways of thinking like a leader fit snugly and possibly deliberately into the compass of a single hand. There's the 'Solid Core' of self-belief and values that for me is the thumb capable of touching each of the other four digits as they perform a constant waggle dance of their own. The middle and forefingers of 'No Safety Net' and 'Comfortable in Discomfort' are the pivotal hinge of the piece, V-shaped and directional whichever way you see them. The ring finger of 'On My Watch' is the conscience of the whole, while 'I Am the Enterprise' with it overtone of egotism, has to occupy the pinkie spot rather than centre stage - all inside my mind that is.
Like all good reads in this field, 'Inside The Leader's Mind' sows its own crop of follow-up questions. Which of Mellon's thoughtfully crafted phrases will achieve 'stickiness'? Which is her 'Tipping Point', her 'Good to Great' or 'Emotional Intelligence' signature? How many of her twenty business leaders will have crashed and burned in a few years' time? Am I more or less inclined to cut my CEO some slack, to want to spend time empathising with her existential dilemmas as a result of reading this sympathetic distillation? This is where Mellon's own voice as relentless interviewer, as wise counsellor and as steely corporate consultant is important to lifting the book as a whole from beyond the airport shelves of instant 'how-to' travel guides. You can almost hear each of her twenty principal respondents puffing out their cheeks at the end of an interview and musing aloud, 'Hmm, that was interesting?' I suspect that each is a more thoughtful, reflective leader as a result - and that is a result.
Mellon's book can be bought in haste and on impulse and then read and digested at leisure - like a wine, if it is truly made it will get richer, fuller and more subtle over time. I simply enjoyed it in the moment - with coffee.