Summary of Not Bosses But Leaders

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  • Applicable


This short volume collects some of the most time-honored principles of leadership and compiles them in a series of short, easy-to-read chapters. Author John Adair draws on some unlikely sources for his material, finding inspiration even in Cromwell, the fanatical Puritan revolutionary; in the experience of the German army during World War II and in other characters and events not usually cited in management tomes. Adair’s classic on leadership, now reissued, is a very useful handbook that resembles inspirational reading more than an expository how-to. On the downside, the book needs tightening. In particular, the author’s lists of "key points" tend to be vague, passive and general. Nonetheless, believes that gem seekers will find useful nuggets of leadership counsel here and that business readers will enjoy the intriguing array of quotable stories and sources.

About the Author

John Adair is founder of Europe’s first Centre for Leadership Studies, which is based at the University of Exeter. He writes, teaches and consults worldwide. His books include How to Find Your Vocation, The Leadership of Jesus and Effective Strategic Leadership.



Leadership Qualities

Business doesn't need bosses; it needs leaders. Good leaders have these characteristics:

  • Integrity — This means that they deserve trust because they tell the truth.
  • Enthusiasm — Leaders have it in abundance.
  • Warmth — A leader can't be a cold fish, and vice versa.
  • Calm — As the Roman historian Tacitus said, "Reason and calm judgment, the qualities especially belonging to a leader."
  • Toughness and fairness — The leader has both.

There are no born leaders and few all-around leaders. Situations often dictate whether people become leaders or not, how good they are at leadership and whether they remain leaders. Winston Churchill was a great war leader, but a failure in peacetime, at least if rejection by the electorate constitutes failure. Everything seems to depend on the situation. In similar situations, very different people may emerge as leaders. Three kinds of authority characterize leaders:

  • Rank or position — Authority derived from hierarchy, such as a hereditary monarch.
  • Knowledge — Authority derived from information.
  • ...

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How to Grow Leaders
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