If you’re looking for leadership wisdom from today’s most often quoted leaders but only have time to read one book…Master Leaders by George Barna is the book for you!
The book is written in a very unique format. George Barna invites the reader to join him backstage in the green room where 30 world class leaders are waiting to speak at a fictitious “Master Leaders” conference. George, who is responsible for leading the conference, engages the speakers in ongoing backstage conversation. As we “listen,” we learn how they achieved their own goals and what they learned on 16 leadership topics that not only include the usual vision, values, and leading subjects but also such rarely mentioned topics as handling criticism and pressure; dealing with power; faith, and morals; and why leaders must also be good followers.
Barna interviewed leaders from various disciplines, including academicians like Warren Bennis and John Kotter; politicians Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and John Ashcroft; psychologists Henry Cloud and John Townsend; football coaches Tony Dungy and Lou Holtz; and even a former mob boss, Michael Franzese.
Here are some of the tidbits that I’m reflecting on…
John Ashcroft on the difference between leadership and governance (both important to pastors)…“I have come to understand that leadership is different from governance. Some people confuse the two. Governance is the process whereby minimums are established. Leadership…doesn’t establish the lowest and least acceptable, but inspires people to their highest and best. Governance operates on the basis of mandates, imposition, punishment, and things like that; leadership operates on the basis of models. The outcome of governance is the establishment of a floor. The outcome of leadership is people operating at their highest and best.”
Jesse Stoner on the power of vision: “There are three parts to a compelling vision. One is determining who you are or knowing what business you’re in. The second is knowing where you’re going, which is your picture of the future. And the third is figuring out what will guide your behavior, which is specifying your values. So a compelling vision tells you who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide your journey.”
George Barna on selecting and growing leaders: “Search for two primary elements: a sense of calling to lead and the kind of solid, enviable character that enables the leader to make appropriate choices and to attract people by virtue of who he or she is deep inside. Competencies are the third element that makes someone a genuine leader, but skills can be taught and refined, whereas calling and character are a part of a leader’s innate package.”
Patrick Lencioni on leading well: “To be a great leader, you have to master two things at the same time, and they do not easily coexist. One is, you have to be humble, meaning that you know you are not better than the people you lead…But on the other side, you have to believe your actions and words are more important than those of other people because they are watching you and following you. When I think of leadership, I think of being a servant, for sure, but being a servant leader means taking a position out in front of people, without making yourself out to be more important than the people you’re serving as a leader.”
Patrick Lincioni on communicating: “In order to communicate effectively, you have to have two kinds of communications: advocacy and inquiry.”
Lou Holtz on regaining trust: “It’s possible, but it’s twice as hard, and I’m not sure that it’s ever given back at the same level as it was the first time. In the back of people’s minds, they always wonder, Will he do it to me again?”
Henry Cloud on leadership training: “In some form or fashion, it is always about leaders being coaches.”
Newt Gingrich on accountability: “You have to surround yourself with people who can fire you.”
Jimmy Blanchard, with one of my favorites…“Everybody who works for us has a right to work for a good boss.”
That’s a small sample of some of my favorite quotes. As I said in the beginning of this review…if you’re not interested in reading thousands of pages on leadership and you’re looking for only one book that will provide wisdom from 30 great leaders, this is the book.