One of my most passionate arguments about developing leaders is that there is very little new information and that just because a book is a few years old, doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of new books with lots of great information, but, you’d be hard pressed to find much Earth shattering new information. I recently found a book that proves my point. Published in 1992, Leadership When the Heat’s On by Danny Cox and John Hoover is a great collection of tips and techniques that are applicable to leaders at all levels. The book has been revised and reprinted several times, most recently in 2007.
There seems to be no end to the discussion of the difference between management and leadership. Managers manage things, but they also lead people. It’s that leadership skill that will ultimately make them successful. Cox goes to some length to explain how managers lead, but he takes an interesting position on leadership itself. He claims that one can only be a leader when the people he or she leads grants that honor. That’s kind of a utopian viewpoint, but the meaning is clear: if a leader wants to be a genuine success, the people he or she leads must voluntarily accept that leadership and follow willingly. Each leader is personally responsible for being in a leadership position as well as their actions as a leader.
Cox goes on to present 10 leadership characteristics. There is in his list, a theme of which all leadership trainers should take note. Each of his points, with one exception, deal with how a leader sees him or her self, and how that leader should approach leadership challenges. No mention of how to motivate people or deal with personnel issues. The one exception is point number 10 which is “Helping others to grow.”
The remainder of the book is seven steps to success that are applicable to just about any type of leader at any level. These steps deal with such issues as time management, problem solving, and managing change. One of his steps involves keeping morale up, certainly applicable in today’s world. Cox clearly describes a list of warning signs of bad morale, analyzes what those signs can mean, then clearly presents solutions to the problems. I especially appreciated two of his solutions explaining that low moral can result from people not fully understanding their jobs and from a manager’s lack of growth as a leader.
Leadership When The Heat’s On is a great tool for leaders who want to become great leaders. Cox and Hoover have given us a collection of leadership tips and techniques that are still very relevant and valuable.