Thursday, January 22, 2015

John Spence’s Book ‘Excellence By Design Leadership’ – Reviewer Professor M.S. Rao

“The highest destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.” – Albert Einstein

What are the Details of the Book?

If you want to acquire leadership secrets and strategies, read this book. If you want to enhance your leadership excellence and effectiveness, read this book. If you want to grow as a successful leader, read this book. John Spence’s authored book Excellence By Design Leadership is divided into seven chapters outlining six key characteristics of outstanding leaders.

What is Inside?

The book outlines that leaders must address the following four challenges globally: poorly communicated vision; lack of open, honest, frank and robust communication throughout the organization; acceptance of mediocrity; and inability to implement key ideas effectively. All organizations must emphasize on the following aspects:
1.    A vivid vision, clear and well thought out, of what the company is trying to create
2.    The best people, superior talents who are masters of collaboration.
3.    A performance-oriented culture that demands flawless operational execution, encourages constant improvement and innovation, and completely refuses to tolerate mediocrity or lack of accountability
4.    Robust communication that is open, honest, frank, and courageous, both internally and externally.
5.    A sense of urgency, the strong desire to get important things done and never waste time on trivia
6.    Extreme customer focus, owning the voice of the customer and delivering what customers consider truly valuable.

The book concludes as follows: Leadership is not power or position; it is not a title; it does not automatically come with seniority. Leadership is an obligation to be a living example of integrity and service, of competency and concern, of honesty and love. These are the qualities that define true leadership.

Leadership Takeaways
  • Have a clear, vivid, compelling vision of where you want to go, both in your organization and in your life!
  • Be an evangelist for the vision throughout your organization. Talk about it all the time-in meetings, at lunch, in the newsletter, by email, in every way possible. Keep the vision out in front of people to help them to see where they are going at all times.
  • Create a set of SMART goals-a specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic plan and timeline to achieve that vision.
  • Use the vision and plan to foster empowerment. Tell people where you are going and show them how to get there. Then, let them make the vision real.
  • Execute to plan. The amount of success you will achieve will be directly proportional to the amount of focused effort you apply to the vision and the plan.
  • Create a culture of urgency throughout your organization.
  • Focus + Discipline x Action = EXCELLENCE BY DESIGN
  • Life is not fair. It was never supposed to be, and it never will be.
  • Regardless of challenges, opportunity for success is everywhere.
  • You become what you focus on, so focus intently on finding opportunity, success, happiness and joy everywhere you look-and that is what you will find.
  • The world is not as we see it, but as we choose to see it. Change your focus, and you can literally change your life.
  • Help other people change their focus, and you can help them change their lives.
  • Great leaders have to take great risks-it is their job.
  • Great leaders are actually skilled risk minimizers.
  • Use KSA – Knowledge / Strategy / Action – to confront and minimize a risk.
  • Use the SAS to put an analytical number on an emotional feeling, and then deal logically with how to reduce your feelings of fear and anxiety.
  • As a leader, you must help your team become more comfortable with change, risk, and failure. Otherwise, your team will risk nothing, and thereby accomplish nothing.
  • Organizational excellence is a form of human excellence.
  • You can’t have a great team without great team members.
  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.
  • The foundation of great leadership is trust.
  • I am good at what I do, and I do it because I care about you.
  • Great leaders have a “can do” attitude.
  • Poor leadership causes as much as 50 percent of lost productivity.
  • Great teams need great team leaders.
  • One leader with a bad attitude can destroy a high-performing team.
  • As a leader, you change people’s lives.
  • People want a leader who will tell them the truth.
  • Become an ideal leader.
  • The quality of your questions determines the quality of your leadership.
  • Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Be curious.
  • In order to be a great leader of others, you must first be a great leader of yourself.
  • Now and develop yourself.
  • Know and develop your organization.
  • Know, develop, and support your people.
  • Have a personal leadership philosophy and communicate it in everything you do.
  • What you are speaks so loudly that people cannot hear what you say.
  • When people don’t really know where they are going, they find themselves wandering all over the place-wasting time, opportunity, talent, and resources.
  • You need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. You must have a clear idea of exactly what excellence means to you, and stay focused on that ideal.
  • You become what you focus on in your life, and are blind to the things that are outside your focus.
  • The first step towards minimizing risk is to acquire knowledge.
  • In the United States, Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, while Gen Y and Millennial workers are changing many workplace rules.
  • People lack the courage to speak up in meetings and put difficult issues on the table.
  • Once you start accepting mediocrity in your life, you become a magnet for mediocrity in your life.
  • In today’s Internet-driven world, location often means nothing.
  • Excellent leaders have a clear focus (vision); they gather the best information available (from all possible sources); they use that knowledge to create a solid strategy (goals and plans); and then they create amazing success by taking action.
  • To become a great leader of others, you must first be a great leader of yourself.
  • True success in leadership comes from making other people successful-making them into leaders.
  • Leadership is not about tricks and tactics or motivation and charisma-it is about character. It is about who you are as a person, which then defines who you are as a leader.

What is the Recommendation?

This is a good book with great leadership ideas and insights. It is written in a conversational tone. It contains diagrams, formulae and apt inspiring quotes. It implores you to shed mediocrity to achieve excellence. Both content and communication in this book is truly amazing. It is useful for leadership practitioners and leaders at all levels to acquire leadership secrets and strategies to grow as a great leader. Strongly recommended for reading!

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for; but rather something to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryan

Excellence By Design Leadership by John Spence (Flycaster & Co; 2nd edition, 2008)

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Life is great!

Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
Listed in Marquis Who's Who in the World in 2013
21 Success Sutras for Leaders: Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year (San Diego University) Amazon URL: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Leaders-ebook/dp/B00AK98ELI

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