Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Book Review: The Truth About Leadership

The December edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries features The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. The authors combine decades of experience in the areas of leadership and executive coaching. The pair have conducted research in the areas of leadership for more than 30 years. Throughout this research and their work with hundreds of organizations, more than 1 million individuals responded to Kouzes and Posner’s “Leadership Assessment” exercise. As they reviewed their data time and again, patterns for leadership success began to appear. The authors were able to codify these patterns into a template of 10 leadership truths.

Readers will immediately appreciate the straightforward presentation of the material by Kouzes and Posner. They are among the most readable, enjoyable authors in the area of leadership. Each chapter of The Truth About Leadership details one of the 10 truths. The truths are reinforced with poignant stories from the authors’ decades of research. It would be difficult to forget the authors’ tale about Angela Gu, an assistant controller for Wal-Mart China. She perfectly illustrates their truth “Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart.” [Editor’s Note: Angela’s story is featured in the Soundview Summary, available now at] The combination of these real-life examples helps reinforce the authors’ points and prevents The Truth About Leadership from suffering from the rehashed template that plagues other leadership books.

Kouzes and Posner have much to offer leaders at any level of an organization. The Truth About Leadership is a natural follow-up to the pair’s previous successful book The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations. In fact, The Truth About Leadership combines the best factors of both the more practical Leadership Challenge and the authors’ more philosophical title A Leader’s Legacy. As the authors write, “There are fundamental principles that inform and support the practices of leadership that were true 30 years ago, are true today and will be true 30 years from now.” This statement, and the principles it describes, support why the need to read this book is a truth no leader can ignore.


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