The Intelligent Leader: A book review by Bob Morris

The Intelligent Leader: Unlocking the 7 Secrets to Leading Others and Leaving Your Legacy
John Mattone
Wiley (October 2015)

How to embrace and then complete the inner work that high-impact leadership requires

This is my favorite passage in Lao-tse’s 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 was again reminded of that passage as I began to work my through John Mattone’s latest book. The information he provides is based on decades of his wide and deep experience with countless (probably thousands of) C-level executives in all manner of organizations.

In the Introduction, he observes, “The greatest leaders, in my experience, are those who are not only deeply aware of their terrain, but also skilled at assessing it, changing it, and using it to guide and shape their actions in the world. Theír connection to their inner core is the ‘glow’ of great leadership. It’s the indefinable quality that makes great people trick.”

Abraham Lincoln is an excellent example that Mattone could have cited (but didn’t). Consider the challenges he faced when he was elected President and had to form a cabinet; and then later when he had to convince the Congress to approve of the 13th amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

John Mattone suggests that intelligent leaders have a mindset — one that Lincoln did — that recognizes that they and the world around them are in a state of constant evolution, and that insight allows them to stay balanced in the face of inevitable change.

How to become such a leader? Here are three of his six specific recommendations:

1. Thinking Differently, Thinking Big

“If you are striving to achieve this, you will inherently be oriented toward consistent improvement  and change,. You will be seeking out the opportunities to change course to make your impact even greater.”

2. The Vulnerability Decision

“Similarly, if you want to embody the psychology of adjustment, vulnerability is absolutely crucial.  You need to be willing to open yourself up to the feedback of others, and be vulnerable enough to acknowledge mistakes and flaws in order to correct them.”

3. Having a Mindset of Entitlement versus a Mindset of Duty

“When you burst the bubble of your entitlement and embrace a duty mindset, you are able to see the biggest possible context for your actions. Having this bigger picture empowers tou to better identify the areas that need improvement and set yourself on the right course. In many ways, the duty mindset amplifies your ability to see clearly.”

I think that The Intelligent Leader is John Mattone’s most valuable book…thus far… because it will have the widest and deepest impact on how almost any anyone — in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be — can accelerate their personal growth and professional development.

This book is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!


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