When we think of leaders we think of people on the front lines who call the shots, know what they’re doing and inspire others to do the same, but Matt Jenkins knows more about this, as he explains in his new book: One become a great leader. Being a leader isn’t just about being in the spotlight. It’s really about serving others. Unless you are a leader who has the best interests of your followers in mind, no one will follow you for long. Leadership is also one of the greatest aspirations a person can have, not out of a desire for fame, fortune, or power, but simply because a true leader is someone who is valued by others, someone who has the qualities that aren’t are required only to be a great leader but also to be a great person.
So we should all strive to be great leaders, and Matt Jenkins, author, entrepreneur, Army officer, and leadership coach, shows us how. In the introduction, he promises us, “In this book you will see yourself practicing attributes that will take you from being a follower who follows the crowd to the great leader you have always wanted to be.” He further explains, “You will see why trusting others, self-education, controlling your temper, and charity will help you pave the way to becoming a great leader.”
Throughout the book, Matt guides us through the various qualities that make a great leader, and best of all, he encourages readers who may not be leaders yet to start where they are. We can all cultivate the qualities of leadership even before we start leading someone. Ways to cultivate such qualities include things as simple and decent as tipping those who serve us, taking care of our families, driving responsibly, and voting. As Jesus himself said, to those who can be trusted with small things, great things are given. As Matt makes clear here, when you cultivate these simple attributes, you will grow into a leader and accept the responsibility that comes with it.
Of course, as the book progresses, being a leader becomes more and more complicated. One of the next big lessons is how to get people to like you. You accomplish this by genuinely caring about people’s lives, interests, goals, and families. Matt explains, “When I work with people, I try to bring out their best qualities and that brings out their best efforts, which is best for everyone. It is very easy to overlook the delicate and fragile nature of the circumstances in which most people go about their daily lives. The people you lead are stressed, live with job insecurity, poor fitness and health problems. They are dealing with divorce, medical problems, trying to save money, raising their families, or struggling with the weight of debt. As a great leader, you need to be part of the solution for them. They should be an advocate for their success, not an obstacle.”
Here you will develop into a true leader by providing answers to problems that lead people to follow you. Subsequent chapters build on this idea and show how to be a leader, particularly in an organization but also in everyday life. Just a few of the titles of the twenty-five chapters are: Gaining Confidence, Developing Self-Discipline, Educating Yourself, Choosing Words Carefully, Finding Your Role, Calibrating Your Team, and Knowing How to Make Change.
In each chapter, Matt draws on personal stories and metaphors to get his point across. For example, in Chapter 13, Find Your Role, he talks about the three leadership roles and compares being a leader to running a three-ring circus. He uses this circus metaphor because to be a ringleader is to be ringmaster, lion tamer, and tightrope walker at the same time. He then explains the similarities between each role and the role of leader, concluding that you can run a three-ring circus if you “know what role to play and why it’s important.
Remember, you can’t play the role you’re most comfortable with in all situations, but you can be successful in any of the three-ring circus roles if you recognize the role the situation calls for—and you have the courage and have the ability to act as such a leader in that role. Practice the attributes of each of these roles and you’ll be ready when the circus comes to town.”
In addition to the main content, each chapter of Becoming a Great Leader begins with and often builds on an inspirational quote. For example, Chapter 8: “Control Your Temper” begins with a quote from General Norman Schwarzkopf: “I get angry at a principle, not a person.” Each chapter also contains helpful activities that allow the reader to think about what learned in the chapter and how it can be applied to one’s personal life to develop leadership skills.
As I said at the beginning, I believe that everyone, regardless of their position in life, should strive to be a great leader. Matt Jenkins does a great job showing us how to do it. I would especially recommend this book to anyone who is just starting out in professional life, graduating from college and starting their professional life, as well as anyone who is currently dissatisfied with life, wants more success with more happiness and is not afraid of the responsibility of being a role model being for others by leading people. Everyone has the potential to become a great leader in their own area of expertise; Now this book provides the tools to make that potential a reality.
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