‘The only leadership book you need,’ trumpets the cover of Lead to Succeed. One reviewer even suggests that …“If you want to move up from being a Mach 1 to a Mach 2 type of boss, this is the book for you.”
A BIG claim, so does the hype match the reality? In some ways, it does and in other ways, it does not. How much less decisive can I be which is ironic when author Chris Roebuck argues that great leaders take clear, decisive action.
Let me explain my indecision.
The book takes you through a four-step journey. In step 1, you learn how much benefit you could get from taking a few, new and simple actions. In the second, you learn to decide which actions could maximise the benefit to you and your team. In step 3 you learn how to implement these actions potentially resulting in your team giving you 30 per cent more effort. In the final step, Roebuck explains how you can then focus that extra team effort to impact on achieving critical deliverables and results. This is all great stuff and supported with practical ideas that can be adapted and used by almost anyone.
The book is also littered with different research sources and impressive statistics. Some are surprising and shocking, such as the fact that 63 per cent of UK managers have never had any leadership training. Other ‘facts’ and figures that Roebuck quotes are less relevant or valid or at the very least require more explanation and evidence to support them: for instance, ‘good leadership can result in 57 per cent more effort, 20 per cent more performance’.
But then I had to smile at Roebuck’s clumsy attempt to use the measurement of the speed of sound as a metaphor for great leadership. Apparently, Mach 1 leadership is not much better than good management. Mach 2 leaders have traits that lead to stratospheric performance and qualities such as a deep knowledge of the business environment, an entrepreneurial outlook and a clear operational strategy. Mach 2 leaders challenge legacy systems and look to optimise risk, not minimise it. Mach 2 leadership is for high flyers, just like Concorde.
I get what Roebuck is saying, maybe he has forgotten that Concorde never really developed a sustainable business model and never flew again commercially after hundreds of people lost their life in the tragic crash on 25 July 2000.
Lead to Succeed does have a lot going for it and is therefore a valuable addition to your library and knowledge. It will help you and your team to make many simple and potentially valuable improvements to performance if you follow through on some of the concepts and ideas. Certainly, Roebuck includes many simple, practical things you can do immediately. Importantly, the book is NOT theoretical and introduces various practical day-to-day actions you can implement which will have a positive impact.
What Do Others Think?
“Insightful, incisive and evidence-based, the book takes a fresh look at leadership with practical steps you can use everyday. A great guide to success.”
Ann Francke, CEO Chartered Management Institute
“Leadership is the crucial ingredient in the challenging world of top international hospitals. It must be excellent at all times – lives depend on it. This book cuts through the confusion and gets right to the heart of what excellent leadership is all about for individuals, teams and organisations, and does so in an engaging and relaxed way. Definitely a ‘must read’ for any leader.”
Sir Robert Naylor, Chief Executive, University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
“Chris’s ‘Lead to Succeed’ is an inspiring ‘must read’ success manual for corporate leaders. Simple, practical and yet transformational.”
Danny Khursigara, Chief Operating Officer, China & Taiwan, Royal Bank of Scotland
“Crammed with real life examples and practical advice, Chris Roebuck delivers a masterful guidebook on the subject of leadership in a 21st Century context. Accessible and applicable – pick it up and learn from his vast experience.”
Gerald Walker, CEO, Commercial Banking, UK, Ireland and Middle East, ING Bank N.V.