In Leadership Rites of Passage, consultant and entrepreneur Rick Tirrell delivers leadership advice presented as fictional conversations between the ambitious aspiring leader Joe Miller and his mentor, Sagen Cruz.
In this scenario, Joe is one of the head honchos from the parent company that has just acquired the Jergan Conveyor Company; he immediately raises wages and offers health insurance to everyone, ingratiating himself to the staff. A year later, the company is doing great and Joe is enormously popular. He reflects on pivotal meetings 22 years earlier when he met his mentor, recaps of which form the basis of the book.
Sagen is the grandfather of a man with whom Joe served in Iraq and whose life he saved as a medevac pilot. Joe comes to him because he has inherited a huge job and doesn’t have confidence in himself, getting in his own way at every turn. The mentor helpfully recommends one of the real author’s own previous books, 2009’s The Wisdom of Resilience Builders. He then guides Joe through four missions, each including a set of tests that constitute the titular rites of passage: take the lead, create followers, become a leader of leaders, and master the psychology of leadership.
Each chapter ends with thought-provoking questions, guiding readers through leadership hypotheticals. These questions, designed to inspire readers to work through possible solutions to their real-life challenges and think through issues from a new perspective, form the real meat of the book.
The story itself, largely told through stilted dialogue, struggles to find its footing. The mentor/mentee framework is distracting and does little to illustrate the message. Thus, it feels like so much filler, inserting an unnecessary fictional framework where an expansion of straightforward case studies would have served better.
That said, readers will find the chapter-ending questions useful prompts for self-improvement.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.