Top critical review
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Crossed the line from comprehensive into complex, and from psychology to psychobabble
on 5 November 2014
This book held out much promise, with some glowing reviews... but having read it, I came away more than a little disappointed.
The initial setup was promising: there are three levels to leadership, the Public, the Private and the Personal. The author commits to using plain english and adding no padding. All good so far. Part 1 defines the foundations - the four dimensions of leadership, being motivating purpose, task progress and results, upholding group unity, and attention to individuals. Excellent start, I thought.
Then we get into the detail. Here are the 34 behaviours that make up Public leadership. Really? 34? Well... they all seem to make sense, but I couldn't help but think that this model is going to end up too complex to be useful. Then add on the 14 key private leadership behaviours. And finally the three elements of personal leadership. So 51 different elements to track here.
Part 2 dives into Personal Leadership, starting with a discussion of Presence versus Charisma. There are some good points in here. But the material on time management in the next chapter is covered better by others. And then we find yet another model with four different skill sets introduced, containing 7 problem solving and planning skills, ten decision making skills, eleven interpersonal skills, and three group process skills.
By now I was beginning to flag. I did like some parts of this - the ASPECT performance goal-setting model (Achievable, Specific, Positive, Environmental, Controlled by you, and Truly worthwhile), for my money, is better than the widely-used SMART model. And I thought the section on whether you need a vision, and what should be in it, was well argued too.
So one could find some wheat in the chaff so far - perhaps a three star book.
However when Mr Scouller start on Self Mastery, I felt we had gone over the edge. Love and Power are at the heart of us all as leaders, it says. We have a Self, and a Fountainhead, as well as a higher and lower mental mind, an emotional mind, and a physical mind. Plus the deceiving False Self. With a hierarchical flow around the Self, and a four level structure for the False Self. We are told that "the second part of wholeness is the union of Self and Fountainhead". I know I'm perhaps unfairly quoting out of context, but this entire section, I'm afraid, I could not stomach. Others may find it useful, but it was not for this reader. I speed-read the last section, hoping for something useful, and could find nothing of any value.
In short, this was a book with some good ideas, but wrapped in too many layers and lists, and with some very new-age attachments. Don't waste your money.