A book’s length is not a direct indicator of it’s value or depth. Many a lengthy book has put me to sleep and many a short book has had wonderful insights. The Leadership Test by Timothy R. Clark Ph.D. falls into the later category. It’s a very quick read but it left me with a new way to discuss some very important leadership insights.
The book presents its story in a fable format. The principle character is Isadore “Izzy” Kroll, a high school teacher who has become an institution in his institution. He is a wise teacher who understands leadership and how people learn. One of his students, Marcus, called out of the blue one day. It seems Marcus was faced with the opportunity to move up in his organization from being an individual contributor to a supervisor. Marcus was considering his options.
Izzy asked an interesting question that makes a great point about leadership. The question: “Why do you want to lead?” Izzy goes on to explain to Marcus that the answer to that question is a primary determinant in the success of the leader. Many people take their first supervisory job because it’s a promotion, an honor, and a raise. It means you’ve done a good job contributing and now we’re going to bestow some higher honor on you. Most people would appreciate the honor. Why not go for it?
But the problems of many positional leaders trace back to this point. Their motives are selfish and leadership is not for the selfish. Leadership is service.
The author uses the main character to make five key ways we are tested as we “put stewardship above self-interest.” The test presents key ideas in a way that is easy for emerging leaders to understand.
The Leadership Test is a good introductory book for a first time leader or someone who’s struggling in a front-line management position. It is a good tool for mentors and executives to provide to individual contributors who are considering their career and the direction they should go as well. If you are a front-line manager, considering becoming one or if you are responsible for front line supervisors, you should get a copy and check it out.