Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review: 'Why Leadership Sucks' by Miles Anthony Smith

Don't let the title mislead you. Mr. Smith is writing about the difficulty of being a servant leader, as followers of Jesus Christ understand that concept. My first impression from the title was that the book focused on all the bad leadership practices that people experience in the workplace.

A good summary of Mr. Smith's point of view can be found on the back cover of the paperback edition. "This kind of leadership is uncomfortable, humbling, self-denying, painful, and counterintuitive; nonetheless, it is the only kind of leadership that brings lasting results, genuine happiness, and true self-fulfillment."

In writing the book, Mr. Smith draws extensively from concepts in well-regarded leadership books, such as "Level 5" leadership in Good to Great. For those who haven't yet read many of these books, Why Leadership Sucks provides highlights from such books that will help readers gain a better perspective on the leadership task, as well as its difficulties. At times, the book reminded me of the early works by Brian Tracy where he so effectively summarizes many fine business books.

Another source is Mr. Smith's Christian faith. For Christians, this perspective will be welcome. Many books on leadership don't attempt to bridge the gap between the secular perspective on leadership and the faith-based one. I thought the integration worked effectively. For non-Christians, this book can be a perspective on why servant leadership is sought by believers, despite its pains and difficulties.

Finally, Mr. Smith interweaves his own experiences as a fledgling leader at relatively young ages. I think that these perspectives are the most valuable parts for readers who are new to leadership concepts and experiences. I know that I would have greatly benefited from such advice as I took on business leadership roles while in my twenties. I would have avoided a lot of mistakes had I done so.

Who should read this book? I definitely recommend it to anyone who doesn't read much of the leadership literature. Perhaps the person who will gain the most is someone who doesn't want to act in an arbitrary way as a leader, but has no idea of what to do instead. A young leader will obviously gain more advantages by being able to apply the lessons over more years.

I generally agree with the book's contents. I only found myself disagreeing more than agreeing in Chapter 29: Marketing and Mad Writing Skills Needed. Take the advice there with a grain of salt. Mr. Smith knows a lot more about leadership than he does about marketing.

Congratulations, Mr. Smith!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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