Light Management, Not Lasting Leadership,
This review is from: Nightly Business Report Presents Lasting Leadership: What You Can Learn from the Top 25 Business People of Our Times (Hardcover)
"Nightly Business Report Presents Lasting Leadership: What You Can Learn from the Top 25 Business People of Our Times" has a long title, but does not meet its meaning. It is not about leadership. It is about management. There is not an ethos espoused, or an explanation of people development. Instead, it aims at what the leader did, rather the outlook and purpose for doing those things.
The difficulty with leadership books highlighting celebrity leaders is in separating the truth from the publicity campaign. The other challenge is in sorting out what we readers can learn from people in positions many steps above us. What, for example, can I, a mere marketing manager, learn from Alan Greenspan or Bill Gates. Both of their jobs involve a caliber of thinking far beyond my own, in fields I do not understand at an even rudimentary level?
The question, then, is does the book understand my needs, or are they just trying to trumpet the success of others? Are they trying to teach me something practical, or inspire me in a more amorphous way? "Lasting Leadership" does both. Neither category is focused enough for me to give it top marks, but there is enough for a casual, interested look into how the 25 people profiled made it to, and stayed at, the top of their game.
Each chapter is broken down into two essential parts.
The first part is the long sidebar timeline providing a minimal biography for each leader. We learn more than where and when they were born (Soros and Grove, for example, are both from Budapest, born in 1930 and 1936, respectively), but also some trivia (Turner was expelled from Brown University as a junior after breaking dorm rules), and some hardship (Oprah was raped at age 14).
The second part fleshes out the business side of the biography. For example, we learn about how Sam Walton took his first Wal-Mart in 1962 to make him America's richest man. Throughout this section are topical instruction. In the case of Walton and his stores, the focus is "Using Price to Gain Competitive Advantage."
Where the book lands into PR fluff is that each profile is too short, and relies on anecdotes. Good business is not a few anecdotes, but such is what curses most well-meaning business books. The reader leaves inspired without substance rather than having gained useful tools for the marketplace.
Amazon.com customers will appreciate founder Jeff Bezos' inclusion. As much of a fan I am of Amazon.com, his profile may be too early. The company's success is still in the engineering stage. While it easy to argue its force in book selling, and the selling of almost anything online, it is as easy to argue that profits are still unsure in the long-term. The popular online retailer is only 11 years old, having been officially launched in July of 1995. In fact, it was not until 2004 that they reported a profit. Considering Bezos a lasting leader is a question we can ask in 20 years, but not now.
The book is an easy read, the kind a young manager might read on a business trip or train commute. It is not a serious leadership book, but can be inspiring to think strategically and aggressively in order to make it once he or she reaches a position of influence.