Read to lead
Tulsan Tracy Spears is a national business consultant and co-author of “What Exceptional Leaders Know” with leadership coach Wally Schmader.
“What Exceptional Leaders Know” is a highly insightful book by two veteran leaders in the business world, Tracy Spears and Wally Schmader.
Full disclosure: I came across it while helping with Spears’ website and read part of the book while the content was living online as blog posts. I came away impressed.
The authors have years of combined experience leading business teams in many capacities, and they have combined their knowledge and experience to create this 55-chapter, 250-page book.
Native Oklahoman Spears is a national business consultant who has spent more than 25 years speaking to groups about workforce culture and motivating performance. She also is an accomplished athlete who competed in Japan as a member of the U.S. National Softball Team.
Schmader is a sought-after leadership coach with 20 years experience. He also is the author of “Full Contact Leadership: Dynamic New Ideas and Techniques for Today’s Leaders.”
As the authors explain within the text, a book of this sort “self selects,” meaning it will appeal only to individuals who want to grow their strengths and become better leaders. Though the book claims to be for individuals already in leadership positions, this reader can attest that its lessons and content are applicable and valuable to a person who does not yet hold such a rank, but aspires to it.
Spears and Schmader reward the leader-reader with applicable exercises and strategies (such as learning to “audit one’s own routines”) alongside their theory and anecdotes. Another strategy the authors recommend is to “take on projects.”
“There are a few people who have developed a reputation as volunteers,” they write. “These people are usually no more experienced or skilled than their peers, but they have the spirit and confidence to raise their hands when they have an opportunity to be involved with something they think is important.”
The authors also discuss the differences between charisma and leadership, the differences between management and leadership, and the most important trait they say a leader can develop: humility. The authors define the trait as “lowering one’s self in relation to others and having a clear perspective, and therefore an implicit respect, for another person’s place.”
The book has five sections (with a separate “Leader Reboot” final chapter) that cover the five traits that comprise a great leader: being self-aware; being an active learner; being action oriented; being influential; and finally, being knowledgeable of personality types.
The last could be a book in its own right.
Spears is a long-standing expert and speaker on the subject of temperament types. Here she argues that the key to becoming a great leader is developing skills that are not measurable (contrary to most things in the business world). Additionally, leaders must learn and manage the common personality types — and their associated behavior patterns — among their personnel, because “the leadership style that says ‘my way or the highway’ has limited success.”
One could argue that the information shared in this book would be valuable to any business, its dynamics and its bottom line if read and acted upon by individuals across the organization’s ranks.
Upcoming book events
2/10 Clancy Martin,
“Love and Lies”; 7 p.m.
The University of Tulsa McFarlin Library,
2933 E. Sixth St.;
2/19 Lou Berney,
“The Long and Faraway Gone”; 7 p.m.
This Land Press,
1208 S. Peoria Ave.;
3/10 Neil Gaiman:
a conversation with readers; 7 p.m.
Tulsa Performing Arts Center,
110 E. Second St.; $20.