Applying his experience in business as an “unconventional leader,” debut author Wallace offers his insightful personal perspective in a book that is as much about a life philosophy as leadership.
Wallace begins with a discussion of typical business leadership, suggesting that leaders tend to follow convention largely because things have always been done the same way: “Today many of us just accept that the leadership pathway is not only unchallengeable but also unchangeable.” Wallace’s view is that great leaders need to challenge convention. As examples, he uses two polar explorers, Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton, who “were both, in their own ways, rebels with a strategic cause.” Wallace explains how these explorers exhibited unconventional leadership and succeeded as a result, contrasting them with a more traditional explorer, Robert Scott, whose conventional thinking spelled doom for his polar expedition. “Like the Antarctic,” Wallace writes, “the business environment has its freakish weather, uncertain conditions and hidden dangers.” Just the fact that Wallace references polar explorers in a business leadership book demonstrates his own lack of convention—and it’s a welcome breath of fresh air. In short, easily readable chapters, Wallace informally lays out a strategy for breaking convention, acknowledging that fear of something new and unfamiliar may be the biggest barrier to success. He urges readers to follow their inspirations and embrace change. He also offers some specific advice for being a more effective leader, including tips for keeping employees engaged, acting fairly, being a real team player when the going gets tough, listening to what team members have to say, caring for people’s health, and instilling a sense of personal belief in your colleagues. Wallace closes with a “Revolution Plan” that is also unconventional. Though it lists action items in bullet form, “there are no action-completed boxes because outside of completing perhaps the self-assessment, none of these actions really will be completed.” After all, challenging convention is a continuous process.
Deftly written, thought-provoking, and pointed; a refreshing challenge to conventional business thinking.