Book Review by Erik Willey


Lead by Greatness (Avoda Books, 2012) by David Lapin

by Erik Willey

David Lapin gives us Leadership 101 for the information age in his new book "Lead By Greatness (2012). Readers will find fresh ideas in this concise book of stories and ideas on leadership and achieving personal and organizational greatness. Lapin spells out why we are living in a unique era of opportunity in world history. Many classic leadership principles are indeed timeless and apply today just as they did centuries ago. There are some things about our world that have changed, and many leaders are still stuck on old paradigms. Lead by Greatness points the way in the interconnected world in which things are happening much faster now. The book also discusses why the new generation, the Millenials (GenY), or what I like to call the "facebook generation", are different and how that does and should impact your business model. Lapin observes " the gap between older people today and the generation born after the invention of the Internet in the 1980s is different from any generation divide ever."  When Lapin refers to "older" he is referring to those who became adults prior to invention of the internet. Lapin is very clear that success today requires embracing and understanding the new methods of communication and fully utilizing them. Millenials don't need to learn about it. They already know it. He also discusses what is important to Millenials and how some traditional leadership strategies do not apply and will not work with this demographic. Probably the most important thing that I can share about the book is that this book is not redundant to the many leadership books on the shelves of the local library. Lapin offers fresh case studies direct from his life and his dual career as a Rabbi and business consultant. His global consulting practice, Lapin International, is based in South Africa and the United States. This book is not the typical rehash of Fortune magazine articles et cetera, like so many business books today. The case studies in the book were an interesting and refreshing change from the typical material found in business management books (other books’ often sound like re-written Fortune magazine articles in which nearly all the themes are quite familiar). Lapin draws from his personal and business life experiences in a way that is very interesting and integrates with the ideas of the book. Lapin integrates character as a key component in business decision-making using various case studies based on his personal experiences as a consultant. Lapin, who is South African, has a global consulting practice of blue chip companies and organizations that rely on his expertise. The book starts by identifying what greatness is and shows the traits of character that support greatness. But, Lapin demonstrates, greatness by itself is not enough. Others must recognize your greatness as well. Your communication strategies to others impact how they perceive your greatness. Also, cultural factors complicate things. Lapin identifies how you can build your personal greatness and communicate it across cultures as he identifies common communication strategies that work across cultures. Failure to understand these strategies leads to misunderstandings and loss of relationship, and business, as he demonstrates in his case studies. I found the book, which is very easy to read, to be a manual of sorts as well. I got a couple of time management ideas out of the book that I implemented before I had even finished the book.  I started to see improvements in my results within days toward some goals that I was having problems moving toward. Also, I was having some difficulties in a business relationship that was very important to get right. I got some ideas for improving my communication strategies with others that have resulted in better relationships with other key players as well as improving their perceptions of me. One person, who was completely ignoring me a few weeks ago, is now asking my opinion on some key issues. I have read many books on communicating with others and consider myself a "people person", but I like the conciseness, usefulness, and action-orientation of how Lapin describes communication strategies. This book is full of actionable ideas which are ready to be used immediately to create the results that you want for your business and life. Quite a large portion of the book discusses personal and organizational authenticity within the context of culture building. Lapin even demonstrated that companies can use their unique cultures to maximize their results in commodity markets. Lead by Greatness explores communication strategies in the context of aligning what you want to share with what others are hearing. The goal is not so much to manipulate them as it is to influence them . So many leadership and management books focus on perceptions these days. The perception itself has become the goal in many cases. Lapin explores how to align customer perception of you with the authentic reality of who you are personally and as an organization. That is not as easy as it sounds, and this book breaks down how to accomplish it. Lapin does not resort to intimidating vocabulary to make his points. The book is elegantly approachable in its presentation. While the audience of the book seems to be written to senior management of large business organizations, the book is very approachable and many audiences will find value in it. I recommend this book to you. Book review by Erik Willey, from South Bend, Indiana. Twitter: @erikwill

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