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5.0 out of 5 stars "Mirror, mirror on the wall....", 7 Feb. 2009
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
As Graham Alexander explains to his reader in the Preface, he wrote this book so that he could "share with you the lessons learned by others and the common pitfalls that I have seen over and over again in the world's boardrooms and executive suites. I'll also provide many practices and specifics that you can easily implement in your work and personal life." He delivers on that promise when executing a strategy that he has presumably used when coaching leaders of some of the world's best companies, helping them to identify and then solve whatever problems they may face. In essence, the strategy is a variation on the Socratic method that involves posing a series of ten "crucial" questions Alexander asks his reader to consider. In this context, I am reminded of a conversation Albert Einstein once had during which someone observed that he asked the same examination questions of his students. Why? Because, Einstein replied, the answers are different each year. Alexander's questions are best revealed with his narrative, in context, but it seems safe to say that a reader's answers to most (if not all) of them will change at least somewhat each year.

A separate chapter is devoted to each of the questions. Throughout each chapter, "Million Dollar Questions" are posed and "Action Items" are recommended. They as well as "Leadership Notes" and "Wake-Up Calls" are reviewed in an Executive Summary at the conclusion of each chapter. Presumably whenever Alexander begins a new coaching relationship, he asks his client many of the same questions and recommends completion of many of the same exercises. Obviously, he cannot interact in person with his reader but he does establish and then sustain a personal rapport as he helps his reader to gain as much value as possible from what is indeed a rigorous process of personal discovery. Those who are thinking about becoming an executive coach or who have only recently embarked on a career as one will find a wealth of valuable information and counsel in this book. That said, I also think that all C-level executives and other supervisors need to respond to the ten "crucial questions" that Alexander poses. He suggests that his book be thought of as a mirror. The metaphor is apt if the various questions posed in each chapter are carefully considered and suggested initiatives are taken. Otherwise, the "mirror" will reveal nothing and the reader will learn nothing.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Michael Ray's The Highest Goal: The Secret That Sustains You in Every Moment James O'Toole's Creating the Good Life: Applying Aristotle's Wisdom to Find Meaning and Happiness, Stewart D. Friedman's Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life, David Whyte's The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, Bill George's Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value and True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, and Alan Watts's The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.
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