Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book review: Derailed: Five lessons learned from catastrophic failures of Leadership

As a pastor, I appreciate reading good books on developing and maintaining healthy leadership. I believe such books help me in the important task of leading my congregation on a relational human level while doing my main work of shepherding them in Christ on a spiritual level. “Derailed” has found a spot on my shelf of valuable leadership books.

In “Derailed” Tim Irwin has brought a compelling format to a well-known topic. There is no doubt that leadership books are full of exhortations to character as being the bedrock of leadership, but Tim’s format of first profiling six highly visible leadership failures brings a new, gritty twist to the subject. The profiles served as a fun-house mirror, enabling me to see my own failures magnified to a grotesque level. The stories allowed me to see exactly how such failures cause a leadership derailment even before I got to the main content of the book. As such, Tim’s profiling in the first half of the book serves the second half (where he blends information with personal application) exceptionally well.

But without a doubt, it’s the second half of the book where this book earned its spot on my shelf. Tim’s understanding of the dimensions of character (authenticity, self-management, humility, and courage) bring what is normally a vague, ethereal quality down into measurable, quantifiable bedrock that a leader can actually stand on. And then, when he finishes up the book with simple instructions on developing specific “heart habits” in order to avoid leadership derailing, he puts that all-important factor of personal application to good and practical use.

All in all, Tim Irwin has a solid and readable leadership book in “Derailed”. I recommend it.

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