4 out of 4 stars
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When I picked up Leadership by Craig B. Whelden, I knew I would find a teaching guide on the topic, with some real-life examples sprinkled throughout the narrative. What I didn’t expect was reading not only an educational book but also an engaging and entertaining life tale as well.
The author is a major general who has spent most of his adult life in the various branches of the military. His autobiographical guide shines a light on his extensive service background, centering on leadership in the military. Craig Whelden commanded several bases in various parts of the world, including the U.S. and Germany. Over the years, he rose in ranks and took command of bigger, more expensive, and more authoritative programs. Even after retiring, he still worked in the military, taking charge of important private projects that some leaders have only ever dreamed about.
The book presents a fascinating glimpse into the world of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. Craig Whelden is not only one of the best leaders I have come across. He is also an excellent storyteller, and a great teacher. We are all wired for stories, and the author often uses them in a gripping way to guide leaders towards becoming exceptional at their craft. The nuggets of insight that he scatters in his engaging biography teach us about taking risks, dealing with crises, empowering others, leaving a legacy to be proud of, and they tell us that when everything seems lost, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. These are bits of wisdom that even everyday people reading the guide can take with them.
One of the personal stories that made an impact on me was related to the 9/11 attacks. That day, the author was in Washington D.C., in a hotel just across the Pentagon. His recount of the events was captivating. Over the years, I have read and listened to many accounts of that horrible day, but the author has this exciting way of telling a story that keeps you glued to your device until the end.
The book is well written and employs straight-forward language that doesn't overwhelm the reader with difficult corporate lingo usually found in this genre. I haven’t noticed any grammatical errors, so the book is properly edited. My tiny complaint is about the many names the author injected into the pages. All the various people he encountered during his career were listed in their particular capacities, and at some point, my eyes glazed over because I couldn’t keep track of them anymore. Of course, the author knew them. They impacted his life, and he changed theirs in a meaningful way. But for me, they were names I’ve heard for the first time, and I found their overwhelming number in the book slightly distracting.
However, this did not lessen my general enjoyment while reading. Thus, I give Leadership 4 out of 4 well-deserved stars. Whether you are in a leadership role in the army, in the corporate business, or you’re just reading the book because you love biographies, you will learn a lot from it. I recommend it to anyone who aspires to become a better leader regardless of the industry.
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