Book Review : Redefining Leadership

redefineleadershipThere is certainly no shortage of books written on the subject of leadership. Everything from principles for dealing with people, strategies to better manage time and goals, and guidelines for developing new leaders has been covered, at least once. In his new book, “Redefining Leadership; Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders”, pastor or Cornerstone University president Joseph Stowell brings an altogether different approach and viewpoint to the leadership conversation. Instead of asking questions centering on success markers and who should and should not lead, Stowell deals with the heart of a leader and what motivates him/her toward their goals.

Stowell puts forward two different kinds of leaders: outcome-driven leaders and character-driven leaders. The primary focus of outcome-driven leaders, as Stowell writes is “on motivating others to achieve great organizational outcomes” and “the power of their leadership is leveraged by the authority of their position instead of the credibility of their lives.” The primary focus on character-driven leadership, as Stowell writes, is to “empower those within the sphere of their authority to achieve great outcomes personally, spiritually, communally, and organizationally” and whose power is “leveraged by their moral authority that comes from the credibility of their lives.” The remainder of Part One, “A Redefined Priority”, is given to fleshing out the dynamics of these two leadership styles. Stowell highlights certain delusions that character-driven leaders should avoid.

In Part Two, “A Redefined Identity”, which is the best in the book in my opinion, Stowell introduces the term “followership”. As he describes the importance of following well before leading well, the author writes, “This is the deal-breaker moment in this book. The question is, ‘Are you ready to accept the identity of a follower…to fully surrender to Jesus as the final authority on life and leading?’” Stowell gives the three markers of followership. He says that Follower-leaders count it an honor to follow Jesus, actively pursue Christ, and are found in the “Way” with Him. In Part Three, “A Redefined Leader”, Stowell redefines the two types of leaders in light of the kingdom of God. Outcome-driven leaders are referred to as “instinctive” leaders and character-driven leaders are referred to as “kingdom” leaders. It is in this section that Stowell examines Christ’s sermons and teaching on kingdom and highlights the core competencies of the leader in light of following Christ as their primary example. Such competencies include humility, mercy, and meekness.

Redefining Leadership is an absolute treasure. With other leadership voices such as Al Mohler, John Maxwell, and Stephen Covey regularly instructing on the merits of effective leadership, Joseph Stowell must be included in these conversations. Although covering a deep subject, the book flows easily and never becomes “professional”. Stowell’s use of personal stories of victory and defeat, as well as the Scriptures themselves give this book a solid footing. Humbly and passionately written, Stowell has a winner here and should be required reading for all who occupy leadership positions whether secular or spiritual.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook Bloggers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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