I have known Jim Holmes for years, and I have experienced many times his presentations and his writings about leadership skills. This year, he finally compiled that advice into a book - The Leadership Journey.
He draws on his experience in the US Air Force and in the business world, providing examples of himself and others in a leadership role.
The book begins with 2 assumptions:
- Most of us are not born with great leadership skills
- We can each work to improve our leadership skills
Holmes lists the qualities needed to be a good leader:
- Motivates those around them
- Delegates authority
- Remains Calm in storm
- Protects the team
- Knows what's really a crisis
- Leads from the front
It's no accident that Integrity tops this list. "Integrity is a coin you can’t afford to spend," he correctly asserts, pointing out the long-term damage when trust erodes.
Each chapter focuses on one key point of leadership and includes one or more exercise. Typically, each exercise asks the reader to write down some ideas; step away for a few minutes; then return and review what he wrote. They are deliberately time-boxed to keep the reader focused and to give her time to reflect on the ideas. For example, one exercise asks the reader to identify a few effective leaders from their own experience and identify traits they have in common.
The book advises a few things that I've been doing for years, such as writing down what needs to get done and keeping track of wins. But it also includes new (to me) ideas, such as recognizing small victories to foster success.
At 107 pages, this is a quick read (I finished on a flight from Seattle to Chicago); but it is dense with good advice.
Much of the advice may seem like common sense to you. But I've made many of the mistakes pointed out in this book and I've worked with many managers who have made these mistakes. Reinforcing these ideas is a step toward internalizing them.