A motivational manual focuses on the importance of human connection.
“To live balanced, authentic, real, wholehearted lives, we humans must connect with others,” writes Coombs (Don’t Just Manage—Lead!, 2015). “To connect on a meaningful level, we must take off our masks and tell our stories.” In the course of his aphoristic, fast-paced chapters, the author blends his personal tales with broader, more general observations about the nature of leadership in both business and family life. The older he gets, he confesses, “the more I see the value in true connection and the emptiness of a society created around the falsehoods of maintaining a perfect life online.” The axis on which most of his advice turns is a series of L-words: laughing, loving, learning, leading, all of them components of “Living Large.” He delves in detail into each of these L-characteristics, expanding on the value of laughter in leadership capacities, for instance. He also explores the significant role learning can play at every stage of the leadership process (“For leaders to grow their organizations,” he writes, “they must become not only learning leaders but also teaching leaders”). The author’s prose is easygoing and clear, and his deployment of vivid personal stories (including some funny tales of being a hapless parent) is skillfully done, neatly balancing the bigger picture sections that are designed to hammer home the key points. The balance is extremely important because those bigger picture portions often lapse into clichés like be “the best you can be” and “you will learn more about how to live a joyful life from the school of hard knocks than from any classroom you will ever attend.” The sentiments of “Living Large” are well considered—the emphasis on humility and laughter is especially welcome—and hardly benefit from such threadbare expressions.
A lively and heartfelt, if sometimes-trite, series of inspirational observations about the keys to great leadership.