A CEO-turned-professor’s debut business book advocates a leadership style for the social media age.
Many business books have been centered on animal motifs, from cats to dogs to sharks, chameleons and penguins. Arguably, the metaphor is overdone, but readers may want to make room for one more in the menagerie, as Glover’s (Accounting/Drexel Univ.) giraffe allegory holds up well. Unlike many business-book peers who hire ghostwriters, Glover openly shares authorship with Curry, whose writing credits range from documentary projects to short fiction. It’s fitting, as Glover’s message is all about increasing transparency, flattening hierarchies and replacing top-down management with true dialogue in order to achieve shared goals. Glover rose from humble beginnings—his great-grandmother was a slave; his father, a school janitor. Nurtured by parents and church members who emphasized education, hard work, humility and patience, he overcame racism and tradition to become CEO of an Atlanta PricewaterhouseCoopers subsidiary in 2000, and he later started his own consulting company, Rede, Inc. After a foreword by Bill Cosby, Glover explores, in six compact chapters, how technology and changing cultural norms have come to favor leadership traits reminiscent of the giraffe, a nonpredatory herbivore and gentle giant known for farsightedness. A giraffe also rises up after dramatically falling at birth, skillfully avoids lions while constantly moving forward to feed and peacefully interacts with diverse herds (an analogy for social media strategy). Glover assembles trends and transformational concepts that aren’t new—and, in fact, are well-sourced—but his book’s organization and presentation are entirely original. Some readers may find that his praise for multinational giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PepsiCo and Wal-Mart lacks critical balance, but he doesn’t aim to comprehensively analyze any one company; he presents examples of the leadership style he favors. It works best when he uses anecdotes from his personal life and professional career, which he does often; he also draws from poetry, Scripture, music, sports and popular media to cast additional light on his argument and on his own life.
A serious business book with a light touch, a clear message and much wisdom.