The former secretary of defense offers insights into being an effective leader.
With an impressive record of service that also includes positions as director of the CIA, president of Texas A&M University, and, currently, chancellor of the College of William and Mary, Gates (Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War, 2014, etc.) knows more than most about being a productive, respected leader. In this informative, entertaining, and useful book, he delves into what it takes to be a leader who can get results without creating unnecessary enemies. He enumerates certain aspects or criteria that are required for someone who wishes to be a trailblazer in the private or public sectors and then backs up these ideas with rich examples from his own work experiences. “The important thing to remember is that in any public or private sector organization, whether it has three million employees or three,” he writes, “having a clearly defined and achievable vision—or set of goals—and getting priorities right in moving forward are preconditions for successfully leading change.” It’s also important to maintain transparency regarding information, to consult with employees at all levels, and to establish methods of accountability. The author’s real-life examples are the strongest part of the book, as they show a side of bureaucracy and of upper-level leadership not often revealed to the public. These scenarios give readers a better understanding about how these organizations function. "The task of reforming institutions is a difficult one,” writes Gates. “A leader's heart must be on fire with belief in what she seeks to do. Changing institutions is a battle, and she must undertake it with courage, strength, and conviction." By following the author’s advice, most aspiring leaders will be able to do so.
A concise distillation of more than five decades of leadership knowledge—good reading for all of the 2016 presidential candidates.