How many times have you been in someone’s office and they have several business books propped up on subjects like leadership, motivating people, or teams? Generally they have light dust on them and haven’t been cracked open since the person first touched them. Don’t get me wrong, I have a passion for books and learning - I’m a reading nut. If you are going to keep a book around shouldn’t it be one that you reach for more than once?
If I were to have one desk book it would be Discover The Joy Of Leadership – A Practical Guide to Resolving Your Management Challenges by William G. Steiner. Willy’s book is a mastery of leadership tips, tools, stories, and real life examples of the challenges of being a leader. Each chapter can be read individually as a quick reference to work through any situation or questions you may run into as you move throughout your day.
Willy views leadership like a house supported by building blocks. Image the house roof as the pinnacle of leadership with 4 blocks supporting below consisting of time, communication, relationships, and change. Each block is integral to leading teams. An imbalance in the house can wreak havoc if there is any instability. You and I both know that we run into situations daily that can bring instability or may weaken teams. Each of these 4 blocks is broken down into sections in the book so that you have a resource at your fingertips whenever you run into a blockage.
First, Discover The Joy Of Leadership effectively reviews some of the top leadership thoughts we have today. Some of them bring the message home through stories offering a wealth of insight and ideas. For instance, as a leader you need to know your “why” and how your purpose will drive your personal leadership. We are reminded of the great Peter Drucker and some of his key principles. What do we have in common as leaders and how do you peek beneath the surface to learn what is really happening in your area? The leadership section has so many valuable chapters to absorb in the short time we all have as busy people.
Willy examines all aspects of time. We are all given the same amount of time and how we use it and approach it is up to us. We learn how to bucket our time, chunk it for productivity, make it our ally, gain control over your minutes, and beat the clock. Most importantly we are offered solutions to shorter meetings, being productive, mastering your email, and making time for the critical pieces such as your people. Who doesn’t need help with time?
Communication can be destructive if managed poorly. You only have to look at what emails and texting have done to us in the past several years. We don’t pay attention. We try to shorten everything and we assume we understand. We fail to master the process of communication. You will not have impact if you are a poor communicator. More importantly, listening is becoming a lost art. It’s almost sad that there are actually classes on how to be a better listener with steps on how to listen with intent. One of my favorite chapters was the listening challenge and how to use silence to your benefit when communicating. Willy offers some great insight and advice in these chapters – one’s that I will review repeatedly.
If there is one thing that most people are scared of is change. The mere word sends shivers down the spine of those that need consistency and order. Unfortunately, change is only intruding in our lives more every day. We need to work with and face the fear. This house block needs to fluctuate, but be managed. Willy introduces some change management models, myths about change, and how you can fight misconceptions. Leaders need to understand the need for change and be able to communicate it. See how the building blocks of our house are intertwined?
Relationships are often the most difficult challenge we all face in our personal and professional lives. We can control systems, work flows, and technology, but people can really throw us off. There are so many intricacies with people. Who are our allies? What about our adversaries? How do we balance personalities and conflicts so that we can build trust and more importantly, engage employees? Again, the relationship block of our leadership house needs the support of the other factors of communication, time, and managing change. Discover The Joy Of Leadership arms us with some tools and strategies to work with people to build relationships.
Even the most effective leaders need support. Often when we are scratching our heads with indecision we need a quick guide as to which path to take or how to attack a problem. If you have Williams G. Steiner’s book Discover the Joy Of Leadership on your desk you will know exactly where to go.