Review of The Radical Edge
by Steve Farber, Kaplan, April 2006
Steve Farber continues to tell the story of what extreme leadership looks like in his latest book, The Radical Edge. Set in the sunny backdrop of San Diego, Farber crafts a tale where leadership styles collide and only those who embrace their inner strengths and the greatness inside those around them are found fit to lead.
The Radical Edge follows the interaction of gutsy, leadership coach, Steve and his one day investment in the life of a young, successful sales champion turned Vice President, Cam Summerfield. Unfortunately, what put Cam at the top of his class in sales isn't translating very well in his efforts to lead a team of sales people.
Farber inserts some ordinary-yet-extraordinary characters in this story. Smitty, is a carefree, dreadlocked, beach bum with keen observational skills, Agnes is an elderly, black businesswoman with a gracious heart and a spitfire passion for people, and Edg is the globetrotting son of a business icon that has a knack for making things happen. Each of these individuals, including a few more unique individuals, engage both Steve and Cam in smart conversation and leave them with leadership tools that make up Farber's recipe for reaching the radical edge of leadership.
The drama moves quickly and keeps the reader turning the page as Cam dogmatically fights against the obvious benefits of each principle presented. Smitty encourages the duo to get a WUP, a Wake Up Pad, and start observing the world around them with greater sensitivity. Agnes, shows them that her success was due in large part to her ability to be the right kind of person. She states, "There are thousands of things to do - I'm not even going to pretend I know what they all are - but all those things will come from the...things you must be with complete abandon." Mary Ellen is Agnes' protege' who describes her inner "frequency" as service - "adding more than I take from my relationships."
Ultimately, the radical edge is found in one's ability to "do what you love in the service of people who love what you do."
Farber lays out three core principles within this witty story that prove to be the backbone of both business and life. They are:
- Stoke Your Business - Learn to care deeply about the people you work with, the people who work for you, and the people whom your work touches.
- Amp Your Life - Discover your inner strength and the identifying purpose that threads its way through your life - then do everything you can to turn that purpose "up" in all areas.
- Change The World - There is no higher calling than to leave the world better off then how you found it. Figure out ways to make the world a better place for people who can't make it better for themselves.
Add this book to the growing list of excellent leadership fables that keep the reader glued to the page while demonstrating the effects of powerful leadership principles at work. You'll find that you can read the book quickly in one sitting, but you'll be going back to it's pages time and again to reflect on and prescribe the principles for your own life and business success.
Reviewed by Tim Milburn
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.