Like many people, I have been yearning to write a book for several years. Not just any book however. I wanted the book to add something useful to the body of work on leadership, particularly the type of leadership I believe is required in the 21st century. The book also had to be practical and accessible, not theoretical. There are literally thousands of books on leadership, many of them peddling the same old formulaic approaches – and frankly, are often confusing and misleading.
The work that I do along with the many talented consultants, coaches and facilitators at The Leadership Sphere has inspired me (together with a fair degree of prodding and pushing from colleagues) to share the ideas, principles and real-world case studies in a new book entitled Leadership Without Silver Bullets: A Guide to Exercising Leadership.
Here is the Foreword to the book below to give you a better sense of what the book is about.
Does the world really need another book about leadership? A quick trip to the local bookstore reveals we are almost drowning in a sea of literature on the subject.The majority peddle a variation of the “Great Man” theory of leadership:leadership is for those special individuals born with a rare and mythical set of qualities who step forward at the right moment with the right answer. Some offer an easy path – follow a few quick, easy steps and you too can have what it takes to be a great leader. Many are simply management tools – worthwhile but distinct from the leadership question. Plenty of leadership with silver bullets! Frankly, most of these books are not very helpful to anyone serious about exercising leadership on tough, complex challenges in the 21st century.
Phillip Ralph’s Leadership Without Silver Bullets offers a refreshing antidote to this plethora of stale or simplistic notions of leadership. Phil approaches the topic with an unusual combination of clarity, honesty and insightfulness. Through the story of his leadership journey, Phil shares his own struggle, the lessons and personal transformation that enabled him to see the world differently, reframing leadership from something mythical and elitist to an accessible activity with the potential to transform our organisations and our world.
Reading Leadership Without Silver Bullets reminded me of a wonderful quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:
I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity. I would, however, give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
Phil explores the complexity of leadership with a simplicity that allows the reader to access the wisdom borne out of years of hard practice and learning – not a false simplicity offering trite answers or solutions, but a simplicity borne out of years of the “hard yakka” of teaching and consulting in tough, complex environments combined with deep thinking and reflection.
Phillip possesses another great quality, again sorely lacking in much leadership literature,namely, humility. His writing, like his practice, lacks ego. His words serve the readers’ needs and learning. Having had the privilege and pleasure of working alongside Phil in a classroom setting, I have observed his careful,understated and skilful approach. Like all great practitioners in any realm, it looks effortless but reveals someone who knows their craft and is able to serve a greater purpose. He is not afraid to challenge our assumptions, thinking and behaviour, but does this without arrogance or censure.
At the core of his work is a deep love of learning and a profound curiosity. He is equally able to learn from his own children as from CEOs he has coached, or some of the leading thinkers and intellectuals of our times. They all have something to offer, to hear, and to learn from. He shares these insights with us like a generous gift.
So, do we really need another leadership book? When the book is as accessible, practical and wise as Phillip Ralph’s Leadership Without Silver Bullets, the answer is a resounding “yes”. I hope you agree and benefit from his shared knowledge and understanding.
Head, Social Leadership Australia (The Benevolent Society) Sydney, Australia
So I’m very excited and inspired to be able to write and publish this book. It is available in print form, e-book and audio!