What makes a good leader? According to consultant Jason Barger, a leader isn’t someone shouting orders from the top of the corporate pyramid but one who serves others and connects them to a higher purpose.
Barger’s latest book uses the metaphor of breathing. Quality leaders breathe in energy, possibility, connection, and progress while exhaling negativity, blame, and other toxic attitudes. For Barger, good leaders are characterized by clarity, inclusivity, agility, grit, getting enough rest, and taking ownership. He dedicates a chapter to each of these qualities.
Barger holds that leaders must begin with a foundation for their organization that includes “a mission (why), vision (where), values (how), and strategy (what and who).” They also invite inclusivity because it “foster(s) cross organizational relationships” that strengthen business (and sports, etc.) cultures.
Healthy leaders are adaptable and responsive to change and have mental toughness and tenacity. Leaders also need rest to recharge. Finally, skilled leaders take ownership and accountability to model the values that enable their organization to realize its vision.
This work is not oriented toward leadership tactics, but rather addresses the mindsets required to become an effective leader. Flying far above the fray of day-to-day business operations, Barger occasionally drifts into platitudes such as: “The world is changing so quickly that it is impossible for you to know every aspect of what will emerge on the path ahead.” Does any leader need to be told the future is uncertain?
However, Barger’s book provides a short, easy read for those who need to step back and see their broader purpose. Written with little jargon, in simple sentences, the book is particularly strong when Barger speaks of the influence of leadership on business culture. This is his area of expertise, and his insights in this arena are most useful.
Leaders of any organization will find in this slim volume a mix of timeless truisms and contemporary wisdom.