May 21, 2004

Jack Covert Selects: Book Review--Into the Unknown

By: Jack @ 6:27 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Into the Unknown: Leadership Lessons from Lewis and Clarks Daring Westward Expedition by Jack Uldrich, AMACOM, 256 Pages, Hardcover, April 2004, ISBN 0814408168 A few years ago, I saw the PBS film by Ken Burns called Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. I was moved enough to get Stephen Ambroses book Undaunted Courage. Both the book and the film made me realize how amazing their accomplishment was. I mean they were basically walking off the edge of the earth. How did that group of people accomplish this? Jack Uldrich tells us: Their accomplishments were a result of great leadership by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. To be perfectly honest, when I first saw that this book was being published, I was more than a little skeptical. I figured the book was another of those Leadership Secrets But nope, this is a book with good information supported by solid data. Uldrich has identified ten leadership principles that helped them succeed. These ten principles are represented by a chapter for each of the principles: Passionate Purpose, The Principle of a Higher Calling: Lewis and Clark were committed to higher purposes that transcended aspirations like power, glory and ego. Productive Partnering, The Principle of Shared Leadership: They started this mission knowing full well that they were in a 50/50 partnership. Future Think, The Principle of Strategic Preparation: Their success was due to meticulous preplanning, using the best equipment available, attention to detail, a focus on efficiency and long-term planning. Honoring Differences, The Principle of Diversity: A very applicable principle in todays business world is to not only accept others differences, but to also honor it. Equitable Justice, The Principle of Compassionate Discipline: A principle they executed, very important to note, with flexibility and compassion. Absolute Responsibility, The Principle of Leading from the Front: This includes standing your ground, and the willingness to be in the line of fire. Meaningful Mentoring, The Principle pf Learning from Others: Both Lewis and Clark had (different) mentors, which they acknowledged to be instrumental in their lives, and were willing to accept not only praise but also criticism from. Realistic Optimism, The Principle of Positive Thinking: Even in difficult times, they always emphasized the positive, and simply refused to be pessimistic. It just wasnt an option. Rational Risk, The Principle of Aggressive Analysis: Leaders have to make the strategic decisions, and this involves prioritizing. Some things simply are more important than others. Cultivating a Corps of Discovery, The Principle of Developing Team Spirit: Their team building efforts were a constant part of the expedition, that was nurtured on a daily basis, not a mere afterthought taken care of once in a while. The beauty of this book is that it is the ultimate training book because the author uses compelling stories to support contemporary issues. Its also a useful tool to help create a positive work environment where teams can begin to think of the unknown as a possible world of exciting discovery.