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The 60 second leader

By TLF Research

Phil seems to have cornered the market in small, excellent value, highly readable management books. The idea with this one is that there are simply far too many books on leadership and management; if you want to have any time left in which to lead, then you can't possibly read all of them. Phil's new book breaks leadership down into 30 key principles, tackling each one in its own short chapter. The 30 individual elements are grouped into 5 categories:

The 30 Elements of Leadership

Personal (self) leadership

Failure - Connection

Intuition - Luck

Decisions - Optimism

Leading the organisation

Strategy - Execution

Competition - Management

Action - Change

Leading people

Questions - Motivation

Attention - Engagement

Stories - Targets

Distributed leadership

Innovation - Leading from the middle

Culture - Frontline leadership(1)

Customers - Frontline leadership(2)

Great leadership

Ego - Love

Humility - Presence

Fear - Legacy

Each of the 30 "essential elements of leadership" distils the best bits from prominent books and thinkers into three or four compactly written pages. This brevity probably means that a sceptic won't be won round, but that's not really the point. This is a book for leaders who are already sold on most of the ideas in it, but want a source of inspiration and ideas. It's ideal use is to prompt yourself to take action.

These chapters are both broken up and supported by "leadership tales" illustrating aspects of leadership with a particular case study. These inspirational stories feature the usual cast of CEOs and commentators (Branson, Semler, Eisner etc), and there is a good mixture of classic tales and ones you won't have heard before. My personal favourite, entitled "unexpected leaders", is about a ten year old girl named Tilly Smith who saved nearly a hundred people by insisting to her parents that a tsunami was on the way as they sat on a Thai beach in December 2004. The point? "…we must encourage leaders to emerge from unexpected places and recognise them when they do. In flexible organisations different people will lead at different times…".

Phil finishes the book with a section entitled "where next?". Apparently research shows that we put learning into action best if we "focus in regular 10-15 minute sessions"; just enough time to read one chapter, think of something to do differently, and start doing it. This seems like a great way to use The 60 Second Leader—set aside 15 minutes a week (or a day!) to read a chapter and really do something about it. If you do that, I bet this book will make more changes to you and your organisation than any number of hours spent slogging away at weightier tomes on the train/in the bath.


Phil clearly understands very well what matters for a leader. Even better, he has spotted a gap in the market for a book that is genuinely practical and focused on making change happen. Last, but not least, for people (like me) who are collectors of quotes and anecdotes this book is stuffed full of them. This is an excellent read that resists the urge to over-complicate. Just because great leadership is rare, and perhaps difficult, doesn't mean that it's complicated. Make this book part of your weekly regime, remind yourself what really matters, and promise to do something with what you learn. Best of all it's cheap (only £6 on Amazon) — buy two and give one to your boss!

01484 517575
Taylor Hill Mill, Huddersfield HD4 6JA
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