Monday, March 18, 2013

Reviewing Tom Rath & Barry Conchie's Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow

I received Strengths Based Leadership prior to a workshop I attended with other ISC principals. Although the book is over 260 pages long, 135 pages of the book are descriptions of the 34 StrengthsFinder themes, 20 pages concern the research behind the book, and nearly ten pages are references. Strengths Based Leadership identifies three keys to being a more effective leader:

1. Knowing your strengths and investing in others' strengths
2. Getting people with the right strengths on your bus
3. Understanding and meeting the four basic needs of those who look for you to lead them

The book is organized in three parts. Part one is called Investing in Your Strengths, part two, the longest part, is entitled Maximizing Your Team, and part three is about understanding why people follow. Short introductions and conclusions are also included. In part two of Strengths Based Leadership, Rath and Conchie introduce us to four leaders who illustrate each of the four domains of leadership strength. Those four domains are executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. The leaders introduced include Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach For America (executing), Simon Cooper, President of the Ritz-Carlton (influencing), Mervyn Davies, Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank (relationship building), and Brad Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of Best Buy (strategic thinking). I didn't think highlighting Brad Anderson was best since Best Buy's market isn't as strong as it once was; however, Strengths Based Leadership was written in 2008 and Brad Anderson retired over four years ago.

The 34 StrengthsFinder themes are grouped into the four domains of leadership strength based on a statistical factor analysis and a clinical evaluation by Gallup's top scientists. I have bought into the strengths based philosophies and clearly see how certain people are better suited for certain positions. I think the best aspect of this book is having access to the StrengthsFinder 2.0 Assessment. Apparently this is unavailable on the Kindle edition. After inputing your unique access code online to take the assessment, you receive a personalized strengths-based leadership guide.

I have shared my assessment with several other people, and we have found it to be fairly accurate. According to the assessment, I am strongest in the strategic thinking domain (input, intellection, and learner) and weakest in the influencing domain (helping your team reach a much broader audience). My assessment also stated I'm strong in the achiever (a great deal of stamina and work hard) and connectedness (faith in the links between all things) themes. Those who have shared their assessments with me have also stated that they largely agree with their assessment outcomes.

I am glad I was gifted with this book because it has enabled me to better understand myself and shown me the importance of placing people in the right jobs. I do not see myself promoting strengths based assessments and discussions in the near future, but I now consider people's strengths far more than ever. Strengths Based Leadership is a simple read with much of it being material that can be skimmed, but new insights can be gained from reading the book.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Reviewing Mez McConnell's Is There Anybody Out There?: A Journey From Despair To Hope

After listening to Pastor McConnell's testimony several months ago and seeing his autobiography for three bucks, I dropped the Washingtons for this incredible account of how the Father radically transforms people's lives. Is There Anybody Out There? is not your typical Christian story, and there is very little reference to God in the first half of the book. Pastor McConnell had an extremely troubling upbringing that led to a life behind bars yet God got a hold of Him and changed him forever. Pastor McConnell hails from the UK and uses slang when he writes of his younger years so some of his language might be slightly unfamiliar to American readers. Initially, the first-person point of view is written in a very direct and choppy manner much like what we might expect from someone who is living a life of disorder. After Pastor McConnell becomes a Christian, he continues to write honestly, but we also read how he lives boldly in a new way. This book is a reminder that a Christian is not only one whom Christ has saved, but one whom Christ has regenerated. I highly recommend this book for both believers and skeptics.

to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:27

Reviewing John MacArthur's Found: God's Will

Although I have listened to my share of Dr. MacArthur's sermons and have frequented his Grace to You site for the answers to various questions, this is the first time I have read one of Dr. MacArthur's books. The 75-page Kindle version of Found can easily be read in no time, and it is solid material that is thoroughly supported by Scripture. Dr. MacArthur's seven-chapter book does not use complex theological language, but it does contain profound truths in words that any layperson can understand. Found is organized in the following manner:

1. Is God a Cosmic Killjoy? - The will of God is clearly revealed in His Holy Word.
2. The Crucial First Step - God wants people to be saved.
3. The Fizzies Principle - We must be filled with the Spirit.
4. The Priority of Purity - Be sanctified (pursue holiness).
5. Silencing the Critics - Submit to the Lord and submit to others in the Lord.
6. Facing the Flak - Suffer for Jesus.
7. You're It - If you are the right you, you can follow your desires and you will do His will.

If you want to better understand God's will for you, it is not as complicated as many people make it out to be. Dr. MacArthur helps us understand that in a succinct and straightforward way. I wholeheartedly give Found my Wickersham stamp of approval.