The Consummate Leader: A book review by Bob Morris

Consummate LeaderThe Consummate Leader: A Holistic Guide to Inspiring Growth in Others . . . and in Yourself
Patricia Thompson
Silver Lining Psychology (2014)

A brilliant explanation of how to accelerate your personal growth and professional development, then help others to do so

The last time I checked, Amazon US offers 113,746 books for sale in the general category of “leadership” and 45,153 books in the “business leadership” category. Why another? Albert Einstein provided the best answer years ago when chided by a Princeton colleague that he always asked the same questions on his final examinations. “Quite true. Each year, the answers are different.”

What Patricia Thompson offers in her book is a cohesive, comprehensive, and resource-effective program by which to achieve two critically important strategic objectives, whatever the size and nature of the given organization may be: helping aspiring leaders to accelerate their personal growth and professional development, and, to prepare those leaders to help others to do so, including but by no means limited to their direct reports.

What is a consummate leader? Its etymology dates to the classic Latin word, consummatus, meaning “perfected, complete.” Back to Einstein’s observation, for a moment: The nature and extent of consummate leadership in ancient Greece or Rome are quite different from what they have become since Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th president of the United States. So, in Thompson’s opinion, what are the defining characteristics of a consummate leader today? She suggests seven:

o Self-Awareness
o Spirituality
o Self-Management
o Positivity
o Authenticity
o Effective Relationship Building
o Skillful Coaching and Developing

These are not the defining characteristics of a “command and control” leader such as those who conquered the world or who, more recently, build business empires that dominated major industries throughout the 19th and well into the 20th centuries. All of these qualities are, however, essential to what I characterize as “leadership for all seasons.” All great leaders in recent years can be viewed as “gardeners” with a “green thumb” who “grew” other people. This perspective is also compatible with Thompson’s covey of characteristics. She devotes a separate chapter to each. I should add, all that she says is wholly consistent with “perfected, complete” but as she would be the first to point out, those two terms are the destination of a never-ending process of development. The men and women almost universally regarded as consummate leaders (from Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great to Winston Churchill and Mohandas Gandhi) were seriously flawed human beings. To cherish them is not to deify them.

No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Patricia Thompson provides but I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of this book. I strongly recommend it, especially to those now preparing for a career in business or who have only recently embarked on one and who aspire to become a leader. Also, to middle managers who need her help to understand and appreciate the fact that all organizations must have effective (consummate) leadership, not only in the C-Suite but at all levels and in all areas throughout the given enterprise.

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