Before leaving on a road trip or planning a vacation, most people plan the route they'll take, the places they'll visit, and the hotels they'll stay in along the way. Having a plan eases stress and makes the journey more enjoyable. According to three leadership gurus, executives must have a plan to succeed in the business arena.
Very rarely do you find a book that examines the thoughts, ideas, and action items on the essentials of leadership development from three well-known experts on the subject. Roadmap to Success is an easy-to-read book detailing how corporate leaders can gain the public's trust, key concepts on what it takes to become a first-rate leader in today's turbulent business climate, and the role that coaching and training plays in a leader's business plan.
In a question-and-answer format, authors Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, and Jeff Wolf candidly describe tips and strategies on leadership topics from building listening skills, to dealing with ineffective workplace behaviors, instilling ongoing development of leaders, identifying and retaining leaders, and creating workplace motivation.
As I read the book, I noted the number of training and coaching references that these authors discussed as aspects of their individual roadmaps to success. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, honed in on listening and communication skills, citing the fact that while most people are trained on how to read, write, and speak, few gain the critical and essential listening skills that leaders must have to be successful.
"Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are the four modes of communication and they represent about two-thirds to three-fourths of our waking hours," Covey says. "About half of that time is spent listening, but it's the one skill people have not been trained in. In a large audience of 1,000 people, you wouldn't have more than 20 people who have had more than two weeks of training in listening."
Wolf, an executive coach and business consultant who was a former CEO at several large corporations, is a firm believer that coaching is a critical part of any leadership development program. "We want to accomplish two goals in every leadership development program: change participants' behaviors and make newly learned skills part of their everyday work habits.
"Changing an old habit and developing a new one takes time. That's where coaching comes in; participants can then discuss what's working - and not working - with their coach in complete confidence."
This book is highly relevant to today's economy. As businesses struggle to stay afloat, it is apparent that people are a company's most valuable asset. The value that people bring to an organization is evident in this book, as all three authors stress the importance of people management and trust as key components of leadership development and executive success.
The writing style offers the sense that you are receiving three different coaching sessions on how to be successful in business and life. Throughout the book, the authors plot a course for finding success in leadership, surviving a multigenerational workforce, and achieving goals. Importantly, the authors are believable because of the examples used and the personal stories told.
The sole disadvantage to the book is the strong "faith and spirituality message" that emerges during Blanchard's section. His message of "how people should be treated and valued within an organization" is not exactly surprising since Blanchard has "Chief Spiritual Officer" in his title. And for some readers, this approach may be somewhat off-putting.
Overall however, Roadmap to Success reinforces' the notion that leadership is a skill and that leaders must develop that skill by learning, practicing, and refining it daily. This is a handy guide for all organizations that value developing future leaders.
I give it three warm cups of joe.