Leadership by the Book: Tools to Transform Your Workplace

March 1 st 2000

Leadership by the Book: Tools to Transform Your Workplace by Ken Blanchard, Bill Hybels, and Phil Hodges (New York: Waterbrook Press/William Morrow, 1999, 220 pp., $29)

Leadership by the Book is a book-length parable about the challenges of leadership, and how to face them. Three main characters—Michael, a young business manager; The Professor, a management specialist; and The Minister, a church leader—work together to help Michael patch together his life, his marriage, and his vocation after a heart attack.

Blanchard (author of The One Minute Manager), Hybels (senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago), and Hodges (managing director of a centre for leadership development), offer a guide to "faith-based business leadership." To help leaders overcome their own egos, and turn into true servants, the authors offer a 12-step program of "FaithWalk leadership," similar to the substance abuse program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

"Faith-based" or "Servant" leadership, according to these authors, demands a certain character (a servant "heart"), certain methods (a servant "head"), and certain behavior (servant "hands"). The importance of character rests on the reality that effective leadership starts on the inside of the leader, and moves outward in service. Leadership methods that succeed begin with vision, and makes much of coaching. Leadership behavior involves the development of a triple bottom line, aiming at financial strength, raving-fan customers, and gung-ho people. According to the authors, "profit is the applause we get by serving our customers well and providing a motivating and empowering environment for our people."

Both in terms of theology and management education, this is a fairly light-weight book. Nonetheless, some evangelical Christians in business are likely to find it helpful.

 

Gideon Strauss was the editor of Comment from 2000 to 2010. He is currently Associate Professor of Worldview Studies at the Institute for Christian Studies, a graduate school of philosophy in Toronto, and a senior fellow with the Center for Public Justice in Washington DC. Gideon also facilitates vocational discipleship in churches in his native South Africa.

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