Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reviews: Primal Leadership and Testament of Devotion

I recently finished two excellent books.
I picked up Primal Leadership last summer, and I just got around to it this spring. I absolutely LOVED it. It is written by Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence), Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee. The premise is that leadership is essentially emotional.
Excellent leaders are in touch with their own emotions and with those of people around them. Excellent leaders know how to speak from their own hearts to others' hearts. Excellent leaders are able to manage their own emotions and even to guide the emotions of others (somewhat).
I was especially impressed with their summary of the dimensions of emotional intelligence (especially as it relates to leaders):
1. Self-Awareness (knowing your own emotions; accurate assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses; and self-confidence).
2. Self-Management (emotional self-control; transparency; adaptability; the drive to improve; initiative; optimism).
3. Social Awareness (sensing others' emotions and perspectives; organizational awareness; recognizing and meeting others' needs).
4. Relationship Management (visionary leadership; influence and persuasion; developing others; causing change; conflict management; teamwork).
Notably, awareness is the core element to personal and social success. We have to understand what's going on in us and in others. That is the first step in leadership. These four dimensions of leadership seem intuitively true, yet I have never seen it this clearly explained.

Another beautiful part of this book was their plan for personal change. They call these the 5 Discoveries.
1. My ideal self: Who do I want to be?
2. My real self: Who am I actually (strengths and gaps)?
3. My learning agenda: What is my plan to build on my strengths while reducing my gaps? (Interestingly, they suggest focusing growth plans on middle level capacities. The idea is that a small improvement in these will move them into the good or very good range. Whereas, focusing on our weakest points will lead us to working on very frustrating issues with smaller initial results.)
4. Experimenting and Practicing: How can I pursue these strengths in multiple areas of my life?
5. Developing trusting relationships: How can I build a network of mentors and peers for help, support, and encouragement in this growth process?

This book was deeply challenging on a personal level, and I am thinking about working out a similar growth plan with our pastoral staff. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in leadership.

Ron Benefiel highly recommended Testament of Devotion. After several recommendations, I finally bought the book, and after some procrastination, I finally read it. And, of course, I loved it. It's written by Thomas Kelly, a Quaker seminary professor who lived in the first half of the 20th century. It's basic premise is that we are called to a deep life with God who lives in us.
I was repeatedly challenged and strengthened by this book. Actually, it dovetailed with a movement of God in my heart and life to call me deeper to Him within me. I'm now making my second journey through the book - something I almost never do. I am expecting and hoping to learn more and to grow more in my deep pursuit of God.
I quoted this book extensively in my sermon last week, so you might look there to see some further thoughts and applications.
Again, I highly recommend this book.
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