Kevin Eikenberry Has Some Problems
Kevin Eikenberry has poor timing.
And he cuts in line.
And, oh yeah, he makes you think.
This may sound like a really odd way to start a book review, especially a very positive one. I received Kevin's book, Remarkable Leadership - Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill At a Time, late last week. I wish he'd been a little earlier. I would have changed my reading list for the new leadership class I'm teaching this fall (hence, the poor timing).
He's also going to annoy some other authors and publicists whose books have been waiting in my queue for a review... some for weeks or months... because somehow his book floated to the very top of the list. It's all his fault for writing something so darn useful and interesting. I picked it up just to thumb through it and couldn't put it back down (ergo, the cutting in line comment).
Writing about leadership... and doing it really, really well... is truly where art collides with science. We talk a lot in my MBA classes about what it takes to make a great leader. Kevin does more than talk about it. He demonstrates it. The pages of his book just leap with relevant anecdotes (both personal and third person). Rather than simply recapping some key points at the end of each chapter, Kevin wedges in application throughout the book by giving his readers "Now Steps" (i.e. "Here's what you can do right now to...") and "Remarkable Principles." He sends his readers elsewhere for even more resources that wouldn't fit into the book with his "Bonus Bytes" and "Remarkable Resources."
But where I was truly impressed is that Kevin created a succinct yet complete 360 degree review of the topic. He meets readers where they are on the concept of leadership... fears... myths... concerns... misconceptions (including the "I don't have time for this stuff - I have a job to do" complaint) and he guides them through almost every topic imaginable:
- Continual learning
- Championing change
- Devloping others
- Innovative thinking and acting
- Problem solving
- Project management (wow... does he win my heart on this chapter)
...among other issues like communication, adding value, customer focus, accountability and responsibility. Kevin and I exchanged a few emails prior to his book arriving, and he struck me as very genuine, humble, and passionate just through the tone of those few brief communications. Reading his book reinforced that. He's not preachy; he's conversational. You can read with a certainty that the same words, the same ideas, and the same stories would be coming out of his mouth if he were sitting across from you. He's very clearly a systems thinker, with a strong sense of cause-and-effect.
The emphasis of his book really is about setting the reader apart as a remarkable leader. If you don't want to reach for being the best leader (or the best human) possible, don't bother with this book. Kevin has woven a masterful synthesis within these covers that will leave you with a burning challenge at the pit of your gut. Yeah, he's too late to make it into my fall reading list for my students, but you can bet I'll be referencing his book a lot throughout the semester.
Speaking of being remarkable, Kevin wants his book to unseat Harry Potter's domination of the literary genre. Now that's what I call a great goal (and I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan, too).
P.S. You know that I like to read multiple books simultaneously or in close proximity. I'd recommend completing the self assessment in Tom Rath's Strengths Finder 2.0 prior to diving into Kevin's book. I think you'll find it a very enriching experience to do so, as having a strong sense of your existing strengths will heighten the context of leadership tremendously.