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Book recommendation. The Inspirational Leader by John Adair. Review by Kate Harrad

June 1, 2009 - In Leadership in Management - No comments yet

John Adair’s book is laid out in the form of a conversation between him and a young chief executive who is looking for advice on how to be a good leader.  The fact that it is in dialogue form, and very free of jargon, makes it extremely accessible.  It also makes it feel rather like a book of Greek philosophy, and indeed Adair refers to Socrates and Plato in the course of his discussion.

image002.jpgAs the subtitle says, the book discusses how to motivate, encourage and achieve success. The basis for these topics is the overlapping three-circle diagram of Task, Individual and Team, and Adair discusses in some depth what these labels really mean and how they interact with each other.  The concept of Purpose is described as being central to this interaction: leaders must infuse their team with a sense of purpose, but equally the sense of purpose must come from within each individual in the team, or in the organization.  Doing a task can be just thankless hard work unless you have a sense of purpose to animate it.  Adair uses the ideas of ‘goodness, truth and beauty’ to explain what tends to motivate people.

The book is a journey through the process of becoming a leader. Leadership is compared to the top of a mountain, and the four pathways to the top are explored: what you are, what you know, what you do and what you believe.  The dialogue explores the conditions and qualities that are necessary for someone to be accepted as a leader, such as moral authority, faith in people, and enthusiasm.  It also takes in broader questions of human nature and what motivates us at the deepest levels, stopping frequently to summarise the main points, and to quote from a range of writers and thinkers for emphasis.

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