“The offsite” is s self-proclaimed fable of the Leadership Challenge (By Kouzes and Posner), an engrossing “fable” offering an insight into the thoughts and actions of a few industry individuals struggling with the mindful implementation of the leadership principles and how they perceive the leadership values in today’s corporate world.
The stage is set at a company offsite meeting in Arizona with seminars and presentations lined up by executive coaches discussing and interacting with those present on the five practices that form the heart of The Leadership Challenge:
-Model the Way
-Inspire a Shared Vision
-Challenge the Process
-Enable Others to Act
-Encourage the Heart
The key thought the author Robert H. Thompson shares with the readers is that leadership is not about position. It’s a personal choice that created a new way of being. The potential resides at our core, only revealed by a spark of passion.
What is unique about this book is that instead of discussing the theoretical aspects of leadership, it takes you through a learning process through examples, stories and objective behavioral analysis.
The characters in the book struggle with real life problems, work-life balance, clashing egos, and relationships at work and of course the struggle in being efficient leaders at their workplace. A point well emphasized in this book is on the difference between management and leadership; “Management is usually defined in terms of getting stuff done; process, structure, control and planning. Leadership, meanwhile, is usually defined as inspiring, encouraging, challenging, and growing people.”
The book presents us with some great learning by example of how human relations and people skills form the basis of a good leader. Though, it would have been great to see some technical and industry based examples on the application of the five practices at work, the whole book focuses more on how entwined and complex we are when it comes to managing and leading people. But again, and as always, human relations often are the most complex to manage – be it at work or in our personal lives, so perhaps maintaining the focus on people management and rising above one’s ego is a good idea to hone those skills which many managers lack.
The Leadership Challenge needs no workbook or supplement, and definitely it is not those “must-read” books once you have completely imbibed the message from the “leadership bible” by Kouzes and Posner; but for sure Robert H. Thompson provides us with an interesting reading of an offsite meeting which is very aptly quoted by the author as “that sometimes-agonizing vacation … the company offsite.” The characters in the book can be easily visualized and very much present in a corporate environment. The struggles to be a good leader with effective peoples skills is relevant to today’s upper management and learning by business illustrations and stories is the new trend that will be quite prominent in this century.
Also the brevity of a message and having a clear focus are essential to catch the readers attention, both of these goals are well accomplished by this book.