Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Follow To Lead - a book review

This book found me on my trip to Ohio. Fun story...I was walking through the hotel hallway on the way to breakfast when a very tall gentleman was spied coming toward me and one of my roommates. I was going to continue walking down the hall next to my roommate rather than walking behind them until I got closer before I moved over. I hope I did not look stubborn because this gentleman started making motions at us. I assumed they meant to move apart so he could squeeze between (something I would have done just for the fun of it). So, I stepped toward the wall instead of stepping behind. This gentleman said that we would need to walk closer together. My response was, "Oh, I thought you wanted a path between like the parting of the Red Sea." A few steps behind us, he made a comment on how that was a good answer. Only my roommate and I turned around to look at him because we couldn't tell by his tone of voice whether I had offended him with my answer or he really enjoyed it. Sitting at breakfast the same gentleman found my table and shared with me two books (one he helped with and one he wrote himself) because he enjoyed my response earlier in the hallway. Phew! I didn't offend someone with my odd wit. The gentleman was Carlos Fontana. Very enjoyable gentleman to have a conversation with. He has led quite a life.

I used my knowledge from How to Read a Book (A Touchstone book) by Mortimer J Adler to skim through these two books. I was taken by what I had seen and had to buy them both. I have enjoyed this one so much that I had to share it with all of you. The other book is Priceless: Sixty-Six Simple Stories of Reflection, Love, and Legacy by Carlos Fontana. I started reading it to my carload of gentlemen for a bedtime story on the way home from the conference. I haven't gotten a chance to finish it yet though, so keep looking for it to show here.

Now back to the book.

The author Don Mercer was an officer for the US Army where he served under Colin Powell and became an expert on the Soviet Union. He served in the Pentagon on the Army staff of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations working for Lieutenant General Norman Schwarzkopf. He was also a CIA operations officer. He also has worked as the CEO of different nonprofits in Michigan. With this interesting work history and life history I read about Carlos Fontana, I was encouraged to continue on to the table of contents.

Followership Principles:
1. Instant Response
2. Initiative
3. Imagination
4. Integrity
5. Inquire
6. Inform
7. Involve
Lessons for Leaders
Now What?
The Ultimate Model

A good collection of words that definitely need to be used more in today's society. It was definitely going to be worth my time to read through it. And I am glad to say that it was. Many days after reading my chapter (or two) I was so motivated to do something...anything...which took some focusing to make it happen but I have found that is the life of raising small children.

The initial chapter caught me off-guard because it uses nursery rhymes to tell the story that leads you through all the points in the rest of the book. Odd and genius all at the same time. Using all of the information that most Americans already know and pulling it all together in this little book.

The Imagination and Integrity chapters got me going the fastest. I wanted to go to school and read it to all of the second graders because I thought they would understand and need them. But my favorite part was the Now What? chapter. It's so good, I'm going to share part of it with you.

"Option 1: Do nothing. You read the book, and you can opt to do nothing further. Chalk it up to entertainment, a bore, or something to do in the future...maybe. The current culture is good to go.
Option 2: Hire the author at a hundred thousand dollars for a one-day workshop on how to use the book to establish the culture in your organization. Hey, it's worth a shot. At that price, I only need one contract a year.
Option 3: Venture out on your own. Take the book and run with it. Use the 'how-to' instructions to establish the followership culture in your organization, regardless of its size."

The great thing about this is you can apply it to your family. Especially when you read the chapter The Ultimate Model. I want to tell you but I don't want to ruin it for you because it was a great surprise for me. The greatest follower/leader of all time.

I would recommend this book to everyone I know. It's an easy read. It's a small book. It's concise and to the point. In a couple of his points he actually says that you could dig much deeper into them, but this is all he needs you to know right now. Go get yourself a copy and share it with your friends.