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The book “Take the lead” is written by Betsy Myers. Apart from being a tremendous writer, Betsy Myers holds a wide experience in academic, political and corporate world. Her political influence is evidenced by her services as senior adviser to two of the most influential presidents including Obama and Clinton. She has not only achieved success in her practical role as an adviser, but also served at the highest positions in different academic organizations for leadership training like Harvard’s Kennedy school and Bentley University.
Betsy is known as a great author and speaker for leadership. The chosen book is considered to be the most concise yet complete guide to be an effective leader. Betsy provides seven principles in the book to encourage the best in oneself and others around. The book is highly regarded and widely accepted as it does not theoretically put forward non applicable ideas, but rather is a concise view of her practical observation during her career. She has closely examined the differences in behavior and attitudes of different leaders and the quality and nature of responses that they attract from followers in return. The uniqueness of her findings lie in her first-hand or direct exposure to the most prestigious political, educational and corporate leaders in the US. She has observed both the most successful and the evidently unsuccessful leaders to draw her conclusions.
“The Leadership Experience”, on the other hand, is written by Richard L. Daft. Richard L Daft is a Ph. D. and a professor at Vanderbilt University for leadership and organizations theory. He has a long standing and well-established association with various credible and wide accepted academic journals as a member of editorial board. He is famous for his high quality academic content and is an author of about 13 books, numerous articles, and many other papers and chapters in the field.
Unlike Betsy’s view on leadership, Daft provides a more unambiguous and specific view of leadership in the business and professional fields. Betsy provides her personal experiences not only as a senior adviser, but also as a mother, daughter and wife in order to explain how leaders may benefit from their personality traits and values to influence and inspire others. Her view, as a result, is wider in scope and defines leadership as it exists in personal life as well as the professional field. She does not set leadership aside for the professional environment, but in fact brings together the different traits and instances where leadership traits are found and working consciously or unconsciously. Betsy’s book appealed to me as her explanation of leadership provides a reflection of my church leader Archbishop Carl Bean. The two books are written from two different perspectives where Daft aims to educate academic fellows, while Betsy provides a view for anyone and everyone who questions leadership and its reach.
Betsy Myers has an experience of working with the highest level officials in the American Government. Her noticeable role during the Clinton reign and Obama’s presidency exposed her to the real character traits of a leader that grab the attention of followers and upholds it for longer time periods. She has identified and explored seven characteristics of great leaders including Authenticity, Connection, Respect, Clarity, Collaboration, Learning and Courage. “These seven Qualities are not a magic formula… but a road map to effective leadership” (Myers 2012, p. 16). Her leadership ideology does not take these characteristics as habits but rather are personality and individualistic traits which make leaders prominent and distinct from others. Stephen Covey provides seven habits of good leaders (Covey, 2005) which do not go in line with the philosophical and deep-rooted character traits that Myers described. She has used anecdotes that support her claims and conclusion from the real life experiences she possessed. Her ideas are simply and plainly put forward without artificial enhancement of real life events which most books tend to do.
In comparison to Betsy Myers, Daft provides five characteristics of leaders as optimism, self-confidence, Honesty, Integrity, and Drive (Daft, 2015). Daft’s ideas are presented more logically and systematically with leadership approaches being segmented into Trait and Behavioral Approaches and further classified by Leadership types, roles, stages and grid. This theoretically sound approach of leadership discussion that most academic books follow seems less important to Myers in her observations about leadership as defined in “Take the Lead”. For instance, to prove her point that authenticity makes a human more of him or herself, she did not use fictitious stories, but instead explained it through her family member, Madison’s, love for dance (Myers & Mann, 2012, pp. 16-18).
Daft takes a position of an educator and tries to categorize and systematically classify leadership types, behaviors, traits, approaches, and roles. On the other hand, Myers provides her observations in a rather casual and storytelling manner which eases up the reader from memorizing the definitions and theoretical concepts but rather provide an insight to the ideology of leadership.
Betsy Myers has done justice to each of the characteristics identified by fully explaining the challenges in achieving them, the peculiarities associated, and the real meaning of those in different situations including official and personal life of individual. Her idea of leadership does not limit itself to the career and professional lives of people. She believes that a person can be a leader in war, classroom, business organization, university or even at home. The idea of leadership is not dependent on the authority or power that is provided to a person, but it is an attitude, a belief and an urge to make a difference. Daft, on the other hand, relate leadership and its effectiveness to the legitimate and official powers that a person carries.
Myers provide evidence and supporting details for her claims. However, her supporting evidence does not involve the conventional way of referencing, but instead she uses the ideas of famous writers, academicians, politicians, and researchers in a casual manner. For instance, Collin’s idea of getting ‘the right people on the bus’ is used to affirm her claim of authenticity followed by an example of Center of Public Leadership where she repositioned a senior staff member from a position of director of special projects to the head of music history department keeping her interest in music in view. Her reference to Collin’s proposition and real-life example of the lady at Center of Public Leadership are both supporting evidences to her claim that authenticity comes from within and what a person really wants to do makes him a leader in the passion he carries. On the other hand, Daft uses published articles, books, and academic materials to support the claims made.
The material presented is used in a convincing manner backed up by Myer’s personal experiences in different fields. She has used her observation from life to write these salient and concise leadership characteristics. Her material is not controversial, however, the examples may not provide an exhaustive list of characteristics a leader may possess. Leaders in different countries and regions may require and possess distinctive leadership traits. The ideas proposed, as a result, may not suit best in other cultures, economic zones, ethnicities, nations, and religions. She has made personal perspectives and made them clear with examples. However, the culture she lives in may suit the proposed ideas. The same ideas may seem flawed and less effective in other parts of the world. For instance, in the developing nations, collaboration may not always work. The mindset of people in developing nations is not to achieve organizational or macro-level goals but rather to attain their personal benefits. In such cases, giving them authority and freewill may harm the wider goal. Hence, authority structure may need to be tightened in order to keep people focused on their collective goal. The mindset, circumstances, and values of people may also have a role in deciding the traits that would work best in a specific location or for a specific group.
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Betsy Myers has a wider exposure to top-level leadership. She has closely examined the behaviors of leaders like David Gergen, Obama, Clinton and others. Her ideas are clear and are backed up with evidences from real professional life, existing literature and personal life. She has used many casual instances where her ideas or character traits of leadership are found working and enabling the achievement of desired goals. The book is a well-written, informative, and interesting discussion on leadership that keeps the reader engaged in the content for the story-like manner of writing. Myer’s has provided a clear idea that leadership is not limited to a single walk of life, but that leadership qualities apply to all areas of life (Kirkus Reviews, 2011). The main difference between the book written by Myers and Daft lies in their position whereby the former has written a book to reflect on her experiences and the basic foundation of leadership while the latter wants to educate people associated with the academic field. The books provide sufficient reliable information on leadership, however the style of writing is different. Myers writes in a rather personal capacity using real-life experiences to prove her points; while Daft writes in an academic manner backing up the ideas from relevant academic research and findings. Myers use a narrative style of writing while Daft uses a more formal and structured approach to put forward the ideas on the academic level.
- Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap … and others don’t. London: Collins.
- Covey, S. R. (2005). The 7 habits of highly effective people. London: Simon & Schuster.
- Daft, R., (2015). The Leadership Experience. 6th edition. Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western. (ISBN-10: 1-4354- 6285-8)
- Myers, B., & Mann, J. D. (2012). Take the lead: Motivate, inspire, and bring out the best in yourself and everyone around you. New York: Atria Books.
- Kirkus Reviews (2011). Take The Lead. Kirkus Reviews, Lxxix(16) Retrieved from http://ezproxy.uaccm.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/913390688?accountid=40247