Arthur F. Coombs III comments that “Good leaders have a deep reservoir of stories, metaphors, and anecdotes at the tip of their tongue,” and by that standard, Coombs is an excellent leader indeed. Much of his book, DON’T JUST MANAGE–LEAD!, consists of anecdotes, both from his and other people’s experience, with a few parables and wisdom tales thrown in for good measure. Luckily for the reader, Coombs is a good storyteller, with a lively, humorous style, and therefore this style makes for an entertaining and engaging read.
Coombs discusses the lives of a variety of other leaders, ranging from Ray Kroc to Nelson Mandela, and illustrates the qualities that he believes allowed them not only to succeed but to lead others to success along with them. He also talks about his own experience and his family, from words of wisdom imparted by his father to lessons that he taught – and learned from – his own children. His tone is folksy and approachable, as if he’s having a pleasant conversation with the reader over a cup of coffee. He doesn’t hesitate to laugh at himself or to discuss mistakes that he’s made in his life, as well as what he learned from them, and he is quick to point out that a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them is one of the most important characteristics that a leader can have.
Other values that Coombs stresses include ready communication, kindness and concern for the human side of business, the ability to give others a sense of ownership in and agency over their work, the ability to see another person’s point of view, and the ability to speak well of others and encourage them rather than criticizing them or gossiping about them. DON’T JUST MANAGE–LEAD! isn’t amazingly original – there’s not a lot here that can’t be found in other books on leadership – but it is well-presented, well-written, well-thought out and all in all, an enjoyable and educational read.
Readers looking for the equivalent of coffee and a friendly chat with a proven business leader in order to learn what qualities he considers most important to develop in a leadership role, will find a valuable resource in DON’T JUST MANAGE–LEAD!
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader