Great Motivation Secrets of Great Leaders: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: July 24th, 2015 by bobmorris

Great Motivation SecretsGreat Motivation Secrets of Great Leaders
John Baldoni
McGraw-Hill (2005)

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

Long ago I concluded that one person cannot motivate another person but it is possible to inspire another person to be self-motivated. This is not a matter of semantics; rather, of ownership. John Baldoni seems to be among those who agree. I read this book when it was first published (2005) and recently re-read it, curious to know how well John Baldoni’s insights have held up since then. In my opinion, they are more valuable now than they were then, given the much greater importance that effective communication now has in a multi-cultural as well as multi-dimensional global marketplace.

These are the great leaders on whom Baldoni focuses, listed in alpha order:

Mary Kay Ash
Colleen Barrett
Crazy Horse
Colonel David Hackworth
Frances Hesselbein
Bob Hope
Earvin (“Magic”) Johnson
Ronald Reagan
Paul Saginaw
Sir Ernest Shackleton
Pat Summit
Thich Nthat Hanh
Sam Walton
Ari Weinzweig

He shares a remarkably substantial amount of information about each. These are mini-profiles of exceptional substance. He matches each with an appropriate dimension of leadership (e.g. communication, innovation, inspiration, mindfulness, motivation) as its role model. In fact, most exemplify several. Hesselbein as a communicator, for example, or Johnson and Walton as an entrepreneur whose achievements can encourage others.

Clarification: If I understand Baldoni correctly (and I may not), the greatness of a leader is primarily based on what that person has inspired others to accomplish. That is precisely what Lao-tse has in mind in this passage from the Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

I have always admired John Baldoni’s approach to the most important business challenges. He seems to possess what Ernest Hemingway once characterized as “a built-in-shock-proof crap detector.” He has an insatiable curiosity to understand what works, what doesn’t, and especially why. He is also determined (driven? obsessed?) to share what he learns with as many people as possible. To learn more about him and his work:

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