Leading from the Front: A book review by Bob Morris

Leading from the FR ontLeading from the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women
Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch
McGraw-Hill (2006)

Valuable lessons for men as well as women that can help accelerate personal growth and professional development

Long ago, I realized that most limits are self-imposed and therefore, I was pleased and (yes) relieved to know that if I set the limits, I could modify or even eliminate them. Later, I came upon Henry Ford’s observation, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” I was reminded of all this when I began to read this book in which two former Marine Corps officers, Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch, take turns telling their stories, sharing what they’ve learned that has worked for them, and showing how it can work for their readers in all areas of their lives, on the job and elsewhere.

I agree with Morgan and Murphy that “few women understand how their behavior can help or hurt their career”…indeed, how their behavior can help or hurt their relationships at work and elsewhere. Morgan and Murphy’s stated purpose is to focus on leadership, providing an abundance of information, insights, lessons, tools, and counsel that will help women to think more clearly, make better decisions, and behave more effectively. As I indicate in the subject of this review, I think the material in this book could also be of substantial, perhaps invaluable assistance to men, especially those whose direct reports include women whose attitude and behavior may be self-defeating.

After their Introduction, Morgan and Lynch take an unorthodox approach in the ten chapter-narrative that follows: Following a brief introduction to individual chapters, they take turns sharing their thoughts about a variety of topics. They then provide a “Chapter Summary Points” section for each. These are among the passages of greatest interest to me.

o Leadership Lessons (Pages 3-5)
o Lead Star’s 10 Leadership Principles (5-6)
o Applying Marine Lessons to Life After the Corps (11-14)
o Ensuring That You Meet the Standards Means That You Can Pass Any Test, Any Time (23-26)
o A good Decision Today Is Better Than a Great Decision Tomorrow (37-42)
o Trust our Gut When It’s Decision Time (45-50)
o Accepting Responsibility Is the First Step Toward Success (55-60)
o Take Care of Those to the Left and Right of You (74-76)
o Look for Unspoken Needs (85-86)
o Overreacting Puts Others On the Defensive (99-101)
o Keep Taking Action Until the Situation Is Resolved (110-115)
o Some Crises Call for Creativity (115-120)
o Keep the End Result in Mind at All Times (128-132)
o Success Stories Have a Common Theme (138)
o Unnecessary Apologies Lead to Misplaced Blame (161-164)
o You Can’t Help People Who Won’t Help Themselves

Before concluding this brief commentary, I would to acknowledge – and commend — Morgan and Murphy on their clever use of boxed insights (identified with a USMC logo) that are inserted strategically throughout their lively and elo9quent narrative. Here are three examples:

“Good decisions can be made with limited information, and perfect decisions are unrealistic. Practi8ce making timely decisions when the stakes are low, and by the time you have to make a tough call, you’ll be prepared to handle the pressure and make a decision quickly.” (Page 42)

“Failing to take care of those you lead can have damaging consequences. In addition to losing the loyalty, dedication, and motivation of your team [as well as their trust and respect], you may ultimately lose your team members. Strong teams have leaders who constantly look for ways to serve and assist others, especially during times of personal crisis.” (81)

“When you’re in a crisis, don’t panic and freeze – that won’t solve anything. If you feel you’re in over your head and don’t know how to handle the crisis, seek counsel from someone with experience who can help you deal with the situation at hand.” (115)

These are hardly head-snapping revelations, nor do Angie Morgan and Courtney Murphy make any such claim. However, for those with limited experience as a leader who need practical advice, the observations and suggestions enclosed in the dozens of boxes will identify leadership basics that can have wide application and deep impact for end-users as well as for supervisors who share them with those for those for whom they are responsible. Those who read this book will also appreciate the provision of a “Summary Points” section at the conclusion of each of the ten chapters. This material will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points later.

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