Debut author Sullivan offers a fresh look at the influence “attitude” plays on effective leadership.
The author uses his decades of experience as a high school and college basketball coach, teacher and administrator, along with wisdom gleaned from three key figures in his life––coach Gordie Gillespie, Bishop Roger Kaffer and Dr. Jack Orr––to support his thesis that the cornerstone of leadership is “attitude.” Using the acronym ATTITUDE to organize the chapters, Sullivan examines Attitude, Teamwork, Toughness, Intelligence, Thank You, Determination and Effort. Solid leadership principles emerge with each chapter’s topic. For example, Sullivan writes that leaders must develop good listening skills and persevere in their core values (Intelligence); thank the people in their organization (Thank You); maintain a high failure quotient by not being afraid of failure (Determination); and demonstrate consistency of effort, which he claims is the hallmark of great leaders (Effort). The author asserts that learning how to criticize is one of the most important skills for any manager, and then he reveals a real gem, polished to perfection by experience––he calls it the “sandwich theory”––where the person is affirmed, the performance criticized. “We praise, critique, and then praise again, thus sandwiching the critique with praise,” he says. He offers an example from coaching: “You know you are a fine player, but why would you throw the difficult pass instead of the easier pass to keep our offense moving? Now get back out there and show everyone how an All-Conference player performs!” Generally, the primer is well-organized, concise and easy to read, with good references to other well-known business titles, and Sullivan includes entertaining and sage anecdotes drawn from his career. The “war stories” are a bit overdone, however, and become personal or sentimental testimonials of appreciation for the coaches, priests and students with whom the author worked. But this is easily excused by the fine examples of leadership shown by the author and his accomplished mentors.
A thoughtful discussion of the traits that characterize good leadership, concisely presented with humor and warmth, devoid of jargon or pretense.