What does it mean to be a true leader? I think when we talk about leaders we often narrow down the group of people who we consider as leaders. We see them as individuals who head organisations. Well, that’s true to some extent. However, in Your Life is your Message – discovering the core of transformational leadership, the authors broaden the definition of leaders. For them, leaders are those who seek to influence others with the goal of serving them. This makes the book very relevant to all those people who seek a meaningful existence. Well, I do hope this includes most of us! The book, published by SAGE Publications is written by Nancy Stanford Blair and Mark L. Gesner
The title of this book has been inspired by another line by Mahatma Gandhi- “ My life is my message”.
Look at this upward spiral. The authors use this to explain the ascending spiral of transformational leadership.
At the base there is a whirlwind of activity. As we ascend the spiral we work towards our mission. We clarify, refine and tighten our approach. We finally leverage the focus and the power of the ascending spiral towards a constructive end!
On reading this book I realised that when a leader has a growth mindset, everyone around him or her also benefits from it. This is probably the base of transformational leadership. Through the experiences of a multitude of leaders or rather influencers from a different mix of fields I could glean how a leader can actually lead transformation.
I like to think of this book as a journey within your inner self. Each chapter welcomes you and thrusts you deeper into your own mind. In a pleasantly dramatic way, the journey starts off with an invitation- and the reader has to choose the one that resonates most, and then of course, there’s an RSVP to commit to! You then go deeper into the journey, meeting other friends on the way. These friends are examples that the authors have encountered and interviewed for explaining this concept.
This is a book where you will be required to pause and ponder, think and really dig out thoughts from deep within your mind and heart. As you read the stories, instances and theories presented in the book, be prepared to do some soul searching and then write down or journal these insights. By the end of the book you’ll have some really valuable material with deep inferences to ponder and act on. After all, transformational leadership is as much about looking within as it is about leading observable change!
We often use the phrase ‘to the core’. But what does your core actually mean? How can a person access his or her core, or even identify and define it? This book has a wonderful section that addresses this question and I do feel this is at the ‘core’ of the concepts presented herein.
Another chapter I found very pertinent is the one that examines your identity. We often say that as one grows older in life, it becomes important to unlearn some of the attitudes and principles of our past and don’t serve us today. This chapter guides the reader into examining his or her identity formation right from childhood through the different stages of life. This is an important exercise as it helps identify your mission and consequently further action.
Who is the book for…
This is a book for anyone who seeks inner transformation and is willing to contemplate and introspect. This book will surely be mentor of sorts for these individuals. I also believe that this book presents a more inclusive definition of leadership that is relevant for us today. Hence, it will definitely be of interest to all those in positions of influence and those who aspire to use their influence for the common good!
What will the book do for you?
This book will give you clarity about your goals, your values, your path and hence your plan of action for the future. The book ends with the very action-oriented and applicable SPEAK model on the basis of which the reader can draw out a clear plan of action for the road ahead.
Mission-driven leadership is a rare feat. But, as they say, the secret always lies within! Look within yourself with the gentle propelling you get from this book, and you will realise that indeed, your life is your message! The journey to transformational leadership has begun!