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How to Be a Leader: 150 pages to leadership [Book Review]

Literacy and leadership skills aren’t a birthright, they are born from hard work, open minds and experience. This is why we thought a great way to celebrate World Literacy Day, September 8, was to go through a leadership book.

We chose The School of Life’s How to be a Leader by Martin Bjergegaard and Cosmina Popa to keep us company on the weekend.

Try our book review on ➤ The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson.

The book series has a simple yet compelling minimalistic design, created to be colorful and mysterious to the reader, and does a good job of it. This small book is also filled with interesting stories to drum up your leadership spirit, and tries to provide some alternative or more modern views on leadership.

How to be a Leader itself says that “this book was convinced as a companion to take with you on your leadership journey,” and it does, to a point.


The Schooling

The book starts off discussing Bystander Apathy or the bystander effect. The book states this as “simply put, the more people who can help, the fewer actually will help,” which stems into a common question “with this many people around, why should I help?”

The book explains the theory, interestingly, through a murder case in the 1960s.

But the book then describes how an everyday person can break the cycle to encourage people to do something, aka lead, through another classic story. This is how the book starts off, giving the reader a sense that they will find more interesting stories to come.

The book separates itself into 3 main parts: You, You + Others and Shadow.

The section, You, focuses on the reader, how to take care of their body and ecosophy. Ecosphy focuses on nature as a catalyst for creativity and clarity, which is an important part of the section. It aims to build a strong foundation for your leadership through you, because leadership always starts with you and your own mentality and direction.

It goes back to an important line in the book, “the best leaders in the world find what they really care about, and almost everything else flows from this point.”

You + Others mainly focuses on communication and giving back, with chapters such as “master the art of communication,” and “decision-making is a team sport.” This chapter emphasizes on culture, communication and how to connect with your work place and coworkers/employees.

Shadows are elements that heavily affect leadership, such as crisis, ego and uncertainty. An extremely interesting chapter is “On Ego and the Forces of Glamour.” It discusses how ego and glamour can block our understanding and learning of the world, and that evolving our mentality is the real way to go.


Final Thoughts

If you like learning new stories that are interesting, this book is for you. It focuses a lot on stories of leaders and everyday people to explain theories and practices. Some of the stories are old, making it interesting how the writers managed to use them to explain modern methods of leadership.

Unfortunately, this book leans towards lazy weekend reading and less actionable Intel.

If you’re looking for a simple book to read, with a bit of helpful points on improving yourself, then you might be interested in this book.

For those that have read multiple books and articles on the matter, it may not be as helpful.

It’s a good introduction for those who have decided they want to lead but only know the feeling and not the important parts of being a leader. It is also a thought-provoking read if you’re interested in looking up other ways to lead than the classical approaches.

Otherwise, it’s a good introduction to the concept of leadership and does have some simple practices, but those who have been expanding and growing their leadership style for a while may not be too excited about reading this.

The simple and personal style of writing does engage you easily, and there are some interesting points that should be taken into consideration, by both experienced and non-experienced leaders. Chapters such as Mind the Body, Decision-making is a Team Sport, and On Ego and the Forces of Glamour are a good read for any.

At the very least the book also provides many other sources that you can find on your own for further reading, and some simple broad practices for certain situations.

You can currently find the book at Virgin Megastores.

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