Leadership Wisdom: A book review by Bob Morris

Leadership Wisdom: Lessons from Poetry, Prose, and Curious Verse
Bob Vanourek
Motivational Press (2016)

Don’t try to find the “right” answers unless and until you first know which questions to ask

Those who aspire to lead others must embark on a perilous journey of self-exploration, accompanied by the right companions. Many of mine accompanied Bob Vanourek as he gained much of the the knowledge and wisdom he needed to create this book. The format within which he presents the material is eminently appropriate: A brief selection from a source, followed by its theme and then the practical applications of its wisdom. He also includes his own thoughts (and feelings) about key insights.  Each of the selections poses or addresses one or more especially important questions. The relevance of answers will vary from one reader to the next, as will the value of the lessons each learns.

There are several chestnuts, any one of which would have been missed if not included or at least represented:  Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena,” Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus,” Robert Greenleaf’s “The Servant as Leader,” Lao-Tzu’s  “Tao Te Ching,” Nicolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozmandias,” and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”

There are several selections that would not have made my cut and, of course, others I would have added. However, this is Vanourek’s anthology and I think that it achieves his objective:  To share what have proven to be the leadership lessons of greatest value to him and countless others, presented in context with his annotations.

Those who are now in positions of leadership or who aspire to become leaders will welcome Vanourek’s services as a tour guide who accompanies their journey of discovery while interacting with dozens of primary sources (whole in part) of wisdom. It remains for each of them to determine what are the most valuable lessons to be learned. The material is presented within three Parts and each serves as a helpful reminder:

o The material in “Leading Yourself” suggests that we cannot lead others effectively unless and until we are leading ourselves effectively.

o The material in “Leading Others” suggests that leading others is a privilege that must never be compromised by self-interests.

o The material in “Leaving a Leadership Legacy” suggests that a leader’s impact and significance are best measured in terms of decades and even centuries rather a single lifetime.

As indicated earlier, I think this book will be of substantial value to those who are now in positions of leadership or who aspire to become leaders and I include in the latter group young women and men now in school who will be self-motivated by material in this book to embrace leadership opportunities when they occur. This is one of very few books on leadership that can have multi-generational appeal. Thank you, Bob Vanourek.


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