Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Review - Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It by Jeremie Kubicek

Quick Summary

In a way, the concepts outlined in this book are not new – it is based on the timeless wisdom from the Bible. It is based on biblical principles such as:

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Mat 16:25 NKJV)

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' (Act 20:35 NKJV)

In this book, Kubicek started by describing the narcissistic culture that we are living in that emphasizes perception over reality, style over substance, words over action. In such culture that is obsessed with achieving celebrity status, we are constantly facing the temptations of self-preservation (the term he often uses in the book). We build walls of protection in order to preserve the “me-first” priority.  As he puts it:

“Walls are built for separating and protecting ownership. Once ownership of a parcel of land is claimed, boundary is established in the form of fences, property lines and walls. Once the borders are built, they can be defended, and most walls have a defensive process to protect them (p57).

[But] men and women who build walls to protect their status or income or their sense of security risk also restricting growth in their careers and relationships. They also tend to fall into a very basic transactional approach in which every interaction demands a give and a take. They “do things to get things”, but, otherwise they hide behind the wall (p56).

But while your walls protect you, they also restrict you and your ability to influence others (p24).”

To exert positive influence, one has to be intentional because the instinct for self-preservation is too strong (as a result of the Adamic fall, mankind become self-focused and self-preserved to cover up his/her nakedness and shame).

But as a leader, in order to leave a lasting legacy and to have a positive impact on the lives of others, one inevitably has to let go of the need to self-preserve.  With leadership position comes a certain degree of power. What we do with this power is important – do we use this power to empower others, or to overpower others?

However, as Kubicek pointed out, the doors of opportunity is normally always open, yet the timing of influence is crucial.  He said:

To be a true influence is similar to parachuting out of a plane. You need to understand the risks. You may be perceived as being too personal. You may not connect with the people in the way that you’d hoped. You may be shot down by comments form the person you are trying to help.

He highlights seven actionable steps a leader can take to exert positive impact on the lives of others. These seven actions are:  

1.      Give trust to become trustworthy

2.      Become credible, not just smart

3.      Be intentional in your influence

4.      Break through your walls of self-preservation

5.      Pursue relationship before opportunity

6.      Give yourself away

7.      Become significant in your impact. (Are you one of the significant persons in the lives of those you are trying to impact?)

Nonetheless, although overall, I think this book is well-written with a timely message, I still feel that Kubicek’s style of writing is rather lackluster, devoid of that kind of “oomph” especially for such a catchy title like this.

Key Insights

•    Leadership should be seen as a means, not an end; a vehicle, not a goal.

•    To exert positive influence on others is an intentional effort. It requires hard work. Be selective.

Personal Application
On page 195, Kubicek writes that in order to exert positive influence in the lives of the people around us, we need to ask ourselves this important question:

What is the margin between what they would say today and what you would want them to say later?
In connection with the above question, I have created a simple free downloadable worksheet to help us map out our goals to exert positive impact on our circle of influence. Click here.

Meaningful Quote

“Leadership is alive when it is used for others. It dies when it is all about you” – Jeremie Kubicek (from the blurb at the back cover jacket).

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