'Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.'
– John Locke

To round out our leadership theme, 'Knowing yourself and others as a leader' below is a compilation of reviews on leadership books.

If, like us you are fearful of starting a new book, where you invest precious time and headspace to reading it and it turns out to be not too good; fear not, The Cove is here to help. Remove the fear of wasting time and rely on someone else to take the leap of faith for you and determine ahead of time whether the book is worth the effort. 

Below is a synopsis of Darren Cronshaw's latest book reviews on the topic of leadership. Each review can be explored in more detail by clicking on the title hyperlinks. Pertinently, the reviews highlight the need to understand others in order to lead them well. For extended learning on this topic, consider visiting Cove+ on ADELE-U and engaging in our Cultures to CulturesDifferent perspectives in Leadership, or Military ethics units. 

Book review | Dare to lead: brave work. tough conversations. Whole hearts, by Brené Brown. Brené Brown has been researching vulnerability, shame and resilience for two decades. Her TED talk on 'The power of vulnerability' has over 37 million views and is one of the five most watched TED talks. In this book she unpacks four skill sets of courageous leadership: 

  • Rumbling with vulnerability 
  • Living into our values 
  • Braving trust 
  • Learning to rise 

What was most appreciated in this book is the invitation to wholeness and growth.

Book review | Leading with cultural intelligence: the real secret of success, by David Livermore. Cultural mistakes are costly and are the main cause for the 70% failure rate for international ventures. This book has relevance for those involved in peace-building and humanitarian work, and military leaders, since the challenges of maintaining peace and fostering community resilience often depend on thorough cultural understanding. Livermore presents a four-part model for thriving across cultures: 

  • Drive 
  • Knowledge 
  • Strategy, and 
  • Action

Importantly, the book asserts we need to ‘move towards becoming leaders who genuinely respect and value people from different cultural backgrounds.'

Book review | Australia reimagined: towards a more Compassionate, less anxious society, by Hugh Mackay. Hugh Mackay identifies a number of challenges currently facing society; however, highlights one of the biggest challenges currently plaguing us is the heightened and widespread anxiety epidemic. We are an over-busy, hyper-connected, financially overstretched, overweight, over-medicated and over-anxious society. This book is essential reading for community leaders and anyone interested in understanding pressing social issues and proposing alternate solutions. Ultimately, we need to join together in thinking innovatively about our most pressing social issues. 

Book review | Breaking calabashes: becoming an intercultural community, by Rosemary Dewerse. Dewerse has sought to identify the 'calabashes' (a metaphor drawing from a Maori legend) that need breaking to form respectful and mutually enriching relationships with people who are culturally different. There are four proposed calabashes that need breaking, with suggested counter behaviours. Dewerse illuminates the power of welcoming voices who are culturally different rather than the damage of marginalising them. 

Book review | The good life: what makes a life worth living? By Hugh MackayThe Good Life does not actually address how to pursue a happy life – in fact it points out the fallacy of seeking one. The Good Life is a welcome and much needed reminder to make the most of life not from seeking happiness or fulfilment as goals in themselves, but pursuing goodness and concern for others. Its valuable analysis draws on Mackay’s wide reading, but more importantly his extensive social research and interviews with thousands of average Australians and how they grapple with living a good life. What makes a life worth living is not our wealth, security, career or happiness, but our willingness to make meaningful connections and serve others. 

Book review | The 8th habit: from effectiveness to greatness, by Stephen R. Covey. The 8th Habit is about finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. Any organisation can be over-managed and under-led; Covey appeals for leading people as people rather than managing them as things. He advocates a whole-person paradigm that recognises people’s body, heart, mind and soul; and their need to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy. 

Book review | Forces for good: the six practices of high-impact nonprofits, by Leslie R. Chutchfield and Heather Mcleod. This book includes stories of a number of extraordinary non-profits and discusses the six practices they use to change their world in extraordinary ways: 

  • Advocate and serve 
  • Make markets work 
  • Inspire evangelists 
  • Nurture non-profit networks 
  • Master the art of adaption 
  • Share leadership. 

The book proposes the most effective way to bring change is not for any one non-profit to build its own organisation, but to collaborate with government, business, individuals and other non-profits for broad and lasting change, undergirded by adaptation and shared leadership.