BOOKCASE : Lead to Succeed

• Craig Lewis • Harper Collins • $29.99

In land awash with amateur sports psychologists whose commentary is happily confined to the armchair end of the telly, it’s good to read some seriously intelligent stuff on what makes winning team – and, better yet, how that can translate to business.
Craig Lewis has spent the past 18 years in performance coaching but in this book, he draws mainly on his experience with two local teams that succeeded against the odds (the 1993 short-track ice skating team and the NZ 2005 “Kiwis” rugby league team) to help define “what it takes to be the best”. And it’s clear technical talent is only part of the picture.
An adherent of the “Kaizen” school of continuous improvement, Lewis bases much of his approach on its philosophies allied with two other fundamental understandings – that of emotional intelligence and of systems thinking. These are not new but they make powerful combination that he cuts and pastes through series of chapters that focus on different aspects of performance improvement – from harnessing emotional intelligence to going beyond the limits of possible.
It means that lot of the same stuff surfaces in slightly different contexts – but its presentation as mix of anecdote, philosophy and practice helps avoid any sense that you’re being repeatedly banged over the head with the same set of aphorisms. This mix also makes it more accessible as straight-through read though each chapter is also summarised as series of “top 10” points – handy both for chapter hoppers or those wanting to refresh the bits they find most relevant.
The book concludes with chapter of the ‘golden rules of leadership’ – the 10 considerations Lewis believes “most critical if leader is to bridge the gap between the closeness and consent they must win and the control they must exert”. These include some of the more standard offerings like leading by example, increasing you own self awareness and recruiting team players to things like “appreciating the power of love” or pursuing the “power of wow”. While there’s not room to detail them all here, I’d suggest it’s list useful to any would-be leader.
My main take-away from reading this book is the thought that if we could just take business leadership as seriously as we take sporting leadership, then perhaps our economy would stand better chance of punching above its weight in global arenas.

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