When is the last time you’ve read a book on “follower abuse?” I’ll bet never.
In this hot-off-the-press “leadership parable,” Jim Galvin
, an organizational consultant specializing in strategy, effectiveness, and change, explores this elephant-in-the-room leadership sin with thoughtfulness, insight and creativity.
Leadership—the God-honoring flavor—cannot be learned or practiced on a diet of tweets, blogs and business books. Jim reminds us that leadership began in the mind of God, but leaders are sinners too.
So I have eight reasons why you must read his book, I've Got Your Back: A Leadership Parable — Biblical Principles for Leading and Following Well.
Reason-to-Read #1: Page-Turner Story + Readable Theology! First, this is a brilliant, page-turner story with a one-of-a-kind section, “A Concise Theology of Leadership and Followership.”
Reason-to-Read #2: Bad Bosses! It’s the perfect tool for young leaders and their coaches and mentors. The book has two parts. “The first part is a fictional story of four twenty-somethings who are having major problems with bad bosses. Through the story, you will learn Biblical principles for leading and following well.”
Reason-to-Read #3: Old Leaders Liked It. Next Gen Leaders Didn’t. Galvin has got to be one of the most honest leaders/authors of our day. After getting high fives on the manuscript from older leaders, he writes, “I showed the chapters to more frontline leaders and younger leaders. The book didn’t seem to be doing much for them. After more thought, I realized that even my own children, who were in college at the time, wouldn’t read the book.” So he tossed the manuscript and started over!
Reason-to-Read #4: Flawed Mental Models of Leadership. In his highly readable section, “A Concise Theology of Leadership and Followership,” Galvin summarizes the fictitious mentor’s approach with four young adults. “As they progress, they also develop a Biblical perspective on leadership and followership that transformed the way they interacted with their leaders. The Bible passages were all familiar to them. They simply had never made these connections before because
their mental model
of leadership was flawed.”
Then Galvin skillfully “un-flaws” it for us.
Reason-to-Read #5: Forewords by Ortberg and Ortberg. I can’t recall ever reading a foreword to a book by a husband/wife team. Nor possibly such meaty material in a two-page foreword. Example:
• John Ortberg: “Leadership has deep spiritual implications because it speaks to the whole notion of what the Bible calls ‘dominion’; an essential part of our being made in the image of God.”
• Nancy Ortberg: “Leadership is the ability to create a way for people to contribute to make something extraordinary happen. So simply by its own definition, a leader has his or her eyes on others. Servant leadership requires that great leaders develop ‘spiritual gift radar,’ thinking less about themselves and more about the vision and the people of God.”
Reason-to-Read #6: It’s as Relevant as Your Last Meeting! Galvin writes,
“Even with all the research
and books available to us,
leadership is still messed up.
When managers or politicians or pastors dominate in meetings, demand their own way, treat people as objects, or abuse followers, we typically call them ‘strong’ leaders. Harsh leaders would be a better descriptor. Clumsy would work. Maybe we should describe them as completely inept at creating a healthy leader-follower dynamic.” He adds, “As followers, our mental model of leadership must be messed up, too.”
Reason-to-Read #7: Four Insights on Followers. Galvin explains why everyone should care about becoming better followers: “1) The best followers are more likely to be the best leaders; 2) Being a good follower helps us to deal with poor leaders; 3) All of us will always remain a follower; and 4) How well we follow others offers people quick insight into our character.”
Reason-to-Read #8: Understanding Follower Abuse. In the parable, the mentor writes the words “Follower Abuse” on the whiteboard and then shares this: “All four of you are victims of follower abuse. You have experienced so much bad leadership from your teachers, coaches, and bosses, for so many years that it has scarred you deeply. Your mental model of leadership is warped. You avoid leadership positions. You have problems relating to authority figures.”
The mentor adds, “Not all follower abuse is intentional.” He then lists four kinds of follower abuse (incompetent, disempowering, manipulative and toxic) and four ways people respond to it. One response, coaches the mentor, is that “the bad habits of your role models are deeply engrained and you repeat their bad behaviors without knowing it.”
Honest. I could list 18 or 28 reasons-to-read this book—but you’ll appreciate the journey more if I don’t give away the story or the Biblical insights. I will need to read some amazing books in 2013 to keep this one off my Top-10 list for 2013.