I have just finished reading The Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley. The author is the son of well-known Christian leader Charles Stanley. Although this book is targeted for younger leaders, I found that the leadership principles covered in the book are helpful to leaders of all ages.
The book is divided sections, based off the sub-title: “Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future.” I will list the five points, along with a few comments and quotes:
- Competence–Do less, accomplish more
- Courage–Courage establishes leadership
- Clarity–Uncertainly demands clarity
- Coaching–Coaching enables a leader to go farther, faster
- Character–Character determines the leader’s legacy
He quotes Howard Hendricks to say “There are many things I can do, but I have to narrow it down to the one thing that I must do. The secret to concentration is elimination” (p. 33).
“There is no necessary correlation between how busy you are and how productive you are. Being busy isn’t the same thing as being productive” (p. 34).
“A leader is someonee who has the courage to say publicly what everybody else is whispering privately. It is not his insight that sets the leader apart from the crowd. It is his courage to act on what he sees, to speak up when everyone else is silent.” (p. 51).
“Courage is essential to leadership because the first person to step out in a new direction is viewed as a leader. And being the first to step out requires courage. In this way, courage establishes leadership” (p. 51, emphasis his).
“Contrary to what you might think, uncertainty actually increases with increased leadership responsibiliy. The more responsibility you assume as a leader, the more uncertainty you will be expected to manage” (p. 81, emphasis his).
“Clear direction in the face of uncertainty. If you are unable or unwilling to be clear when things are not certain, you are not ready to assume further leadership responsibilities” (p. 91).
This section is about the importance of having a leadership coach to help you grow as a leader. “Next generation leaders must realize that it is not the accomplishments of a coach that make him a valuable ally in the endeavor of leadership. Most of the time it is not even what a coach knows that makes him valuable. It is what he sees that counts” (p. 113, emphasis his). We all have our blind spots, and could all benefit from the wise counsel of a coach.
“We set young leaders up for a fall if we encourage them to envision what they can do before they consider the kind of person they should be” (p. 131, quoting R. Ruth Barton)
“Nobody plans to fail, especially leaders. But to ignore the condition of your soul is the equivalent of planning to fail” (p. 153).
He defines character as “the will to do what’s right even when it’s hard” (p. 133).
I recommend this book for anyone serving in a leadership position, especially for younger leaders.