Every now and then you come across a book that you know is going to be more than just a good, inspiring read, it’s going to be a useful resource that you refer to again and again. This book is one of those books.
Kate Coleman is the founder and director of Next Leadership and this book comes out of the pilot leadership development course of the same name and which is now being run in various places which many people are finding to be incredibly transformative.
Before getting into the content of the book and what is so good about it, it might be worth addressing what Kate means when she talks about ‘sins’s. Elaine Storkey helpfully sums this up in her foreword:
“Kate is not offering a diatribe of offences against God for which we deserve punishment. Nor is she cataloguing our moral ineptitudes in order to make us feel wretched. On the contrary, Kate identifies the nature of sin with the destructive patterns of thought and behaviour that thwart the leadership God calls us to exercise.” (p11)
As indicated in the title of the book, Kate identifies seven of these destructive patterns of thought and behaviour often found in women who lead. They are:
2. Failure to draw the line
3. Inadequate personal vision
4. Too little life in the work
5. Everybody’s friend, nobody’s leader
6. Colluding and not confronting
7. Neglect in family matters
I have to confess to having a bit of a caution about books written specifically for women on leadership, but Kate highlights well some of the particular challenges women face and whilst reading this book it often felt like a mirror was being held up that enabled me to see different ways in which my own behaviour and thinking holds me back in exercising leadership.
Kate combines the use of personal story, case studies, research and just general good wisdom as she writes, and throughout each chapter not only identifies the destructive behaviour but also offers insightful questions to reflect on and practical steps to take to counteract that behaviour. Each chapter ends with some coaching tips that are well worth taking the time to consider.
The only negative thing I would have to say is that for me occasionally it felt that Kate overplayed some of the gender stereotypes of how men and women lead, I’m not quite sure that women have a particular leadership style and men a different one and research would seem to support that, however this is a really useful book that has helped me see more clearly how I can better develop my leadership ability.
A sample of the introduction is available free to download at Kate’s website - www.next leadership.org - which gives a bit more detail of each of the ‘sins’, and the book can also be bought via that site.
Reviewed by Ruth Hassall, leadership development advisor for CPAS