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Review: Total Leadership


Title: Total Leadership, Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
Author: Stewart D. Friedman
Publisher: Harvard Business Press
Price: £14.99

As the jacket cover explains 'Total Leadership' is adapted from author Stew Friedman's popular Wharton School course. I found that to be both the strength and weakness of this book. Friedman's core concept of identifying one's values and then using these to improve your leadership in four areas (domains as he calls them) is simple, yet brilliant.

Unlike so many other leadership books, this is not a book about what makes a great leader. This is a book about finding out what makes you a great leader. A very worthy, and ultimately practical, pursuit.

Through a series of activities, Friedman encourages the reader to analyse one's leadership activities in terms of the key stakeholders – work, home, community and self. A simple process of drawing four circles to represent the current strength and interaction within these four stakeholder domains and then redrawing them to represent a better balance, gives the reader the basis of a leadership vision.

A well designed series of simple, yet effective activities, takes the reader on his or her leadership journey. Very easy to follow and to implement.

It's obvious that the book has been developed from a successful course. It's always a big ask to do this well, as often some of the course's success comes through the personality of the presenter. Written in the first person, I found it a little verbose. For example the introduction went for 24 pages, which perhaps could have been handled in four. Friedman's style did not resonate with me – perhaps he would be totally different in person. I also found some little annoying things such as the constant use of the term 'Total Leadership participants'. Having mentioned this once, they could have just been referred to as participants thereafter.

I appreciate how difficult it is to translate a workshop into a book – the book can either become too mechanical or too wordy. For me, 'Total Leadership' was the latter.

However, this should not take away from the excellent core content and learning process. For trainers involved in leadership development and career planning, this could be a great resource.

Bob Selden is author of 'What To Do When You Become The Boss'- a self-help book for new managers. For more information visit: He also coaches at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland and the Australian Graduate School of Management, Sydney. Click here to see the latest articles on employee feedback, motivation and training from the National Learning Institute.

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