In The Heart of a Leader, life coach Jennifer Higgins outlines 30 steps integral to achieving success in management leadership. She categorizes these into four distinct sections: “You,” “Your Talk,” “Your People,” and “Business Realities.”
Each section starts with a few paragraphs of introduction, and the ensuing steps are presented on the pages that follow: one step and a single-page elaboration on the left side, a cartoon that exemplifies the step on the right. The cartoons have a whimsical, wholesome quality to them that will bring smiles. Higgins’ advice, however, is less effective, as her background as a life coach seems to slant the content and overwhelm any unique, tactical advice on leading.
The first three sections of the book contain rather generic advice. Steps like “Be OK with who you are,” “Be grateful,” “Yelling doesn’t accomplish anything,” and “Everyone Is entitled to her opinion — and it’s right because it’s her opinion!” read more like playground rules than business tactics. This doesn’t mean that they are incorrect, but to make them worthy of attention in a business context, readers will need more concrete strategies and depth than, “We spend 33% of the day at work — so try smiling and being positive and see what positive results you get.”
The book has some bright spots, especially in the final section entitled “Business Realities,” in which Higgins offers several thought-inspiring ideas. For example, in “Your job is to guide without doing,” Higgins advises managers to provide a framework, set expectations, remove barriers, and get out of the way so that their people can do their jobs; this is a great strategy for any manager of any project and should be taken to heart.
The Heart of a Leader is delivered with enthusiasm, encouragement and passion for personal improvement. These are infectious and powerful qualities that would be unbeatable if combined with more concrete steps appropriately sophisticated for a business audience.
Also available as an ebook.