The past several years, I have enjoyed reading books on the subject of leadership. As I read them, I am often challenged to think through my (often poor) leadership style. That is sort of how I felt as I read through Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley. While I was challenged on many aspect of my own leadership, it felt like I had read this before. Don't get me wrong, there are many practical things in this book that I found helpful. But as I read it, not much appeared revolutionary to me. It is clear that he has been influenced by many of the same leadership books I have read before.
That doesn't mean this book did not have some good things to say about leadership. Let me point out a few of them that are found in this book, which is organized around five essentials: Competence, Courage, Clarity, Coaching, and Character.
In the first section on Competence, he describes that we all have a niche. There are some things we will be more gifted and competent to do than others. A good leader finds what they are most called and gifted to do and does that thing and does not allow his time to get challenged with the other things.
He describes that Courage is necessary for the leader because often they are the ones out in front. They are the ones seeing what is not there and trying to make it happen.
His section on Clarity is important and is one area that I have tried to work on more than any other in my leadership ministry. He is quick to point out that uncertainty is normal for the leader. But the leader is called to "bring clarity into the midst of the uncertainty" (86).
I was encouraged that Stanley encourages leaders to have Coaching in their life (someone in their life that they have invited in to help point out blind spots). This is the one area of this book that I plan on implementing more strategically. He rightly points out how most leaders respond to this area:
"There is something in many of us that resists being coached in the realm of leadership. We are willing to spend outrageous amounts of time and money perfecting our putts, serves, and swings. But when it comes to our leadership, we resist input. Maybe it's the way leaders are wired. Maybe it's pride. I don't know. But on more than one occasion I have interfaced with young leaders who had great potential but who were unteachable" (109).
The last section of the book on Character was particularly interesting. He rightly points out that there are many people who are great leaders who are not individuals of character. Character does not provide the platform for leadership, but it does make the person worthy to follow. He says,
"To become a leader worth following, you must be intentional about developing the inner man. You must invest in the health of your soul. Nobody plans to fail, especially leaders. But to ignore the condition of your soul is the equivalent of planning to fail" (153).
This book is a book written by a pastor. So I can relate to many of his illustrations. My only wish is that he would have brought out more biblical examples or grounded his arguments for these leadership characteristics more profoundly from the text of the Bible. While it is a book written by a pastor, the book is not just a book about pastoral leadership. He does a good job of making it applicable for the leader in any industry. If you are looking for a good introductory book on leadership, Next Generation Leader will be worth your investment. If you have read many books on leadership, you may want to take a pass at this one.
I received a copy of Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley from Multnomah Books for review.