Leadership Wisdom: Lessons from Poetry, Prose, and Curious Verse by Bob Vanourek is an enlightening collection of sage and timely advice.
Books about leadership and self-improvement seem to be a dime a dozen, which makes it difficult to know who to heed and where the best advice actually comes from. Sidestepping that common failing, Bob Vanourek’s new book, Leadership Wisdom, instead relies on great minds and wise figures from human history to support his unique perspective.
While it can be easy to dismiss the occasionally condescending lessons from modern leaders and success stories, it is far harder to discount the bold, perfectly curated words of Susan B. Anthony, J.R.R. Tolkien, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Gautama Buddha, among others. There is nothing wrong with seeking help or guidance from others, particularly if you’re a leader struggling with the onus of responsibility, but it is always important to choose the “right” wisdom.
From the poetry of Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll to the most quotable passages of the Bible, Leadership Wisdom is an easy-to-read collection of thoughts, quotes, essay excerpts, poetry and philosophy that have driven human society forward for centuries. Vanourek uses the words of others as a starting point, but also follows them up with succinct summaries of the struggles, risks and achievements that those great leaders experienced.
The choice of wisdom contributors hinted at Vanourek’s ultimate point – that leadership is not something relegated to those in political, social, popular or financial power. Rather, leadership is a quality that any and all can possess, and its potential for changing the world – or even nudging it slightly – makes this universal quality one of the most important traits in our lives.
The three main sections of the book focus on leading yourself, leading others and leaving a legacy. Those larger subjects are then concisely broken down into relatable themes, each of which has a strong, clear title, so readers instantly know if the page is of interest; in most cases, it is.
Each quote or passage is related to a write-up on the adjacent page, making the process of reading this collection simple and accessible. When a reader needs a burst of inspiration or a helping hand of guidance, flipping to any point in the book will deliver an easily digestible and profound piece of advice that can be immediately put to use. What’s more, each themed section is accompanied by practical applications – a series of questions that will help readers personalize the concept and identify its place in their own lives. This challenges readers to apply the lessons right away, or at the very least, it stimulates more questions and self-analysis, which form the cornerstone of personal growth.
The comprehensive nature of the advice makes this book significant for leaders at every level – aspiring, burgeoning, established, veteran and legendary leaders can all glean some new wisdom from these pages and improve their own perspectives and leadership activities. Vanourek’s own experience as a leader colors some of the content, but when couched in the context of so many other renowned historical figures, his words seem powerful and validated.
Reading books about leadership can often be a chore, given their penchant for hackneyed phrases, common-sense guidance, and meaningless sound-byte suggestions, but the format, tone and careful curation of Leadership Wisdom makes it stand apart from the commonplace advice so often found in this genre.