Book Review: Leading Matters-Lessons From My Journey by John Hennessy

Book Review: Leading Matters-Lessons From My Journey by John Hennessy

This article suggests three major reasons for reading Leading Matters by John Hennessy the tenth president of Stanford University. Aside from being a quick read with only 157 pages, the book is packed with stories of how the author overcame challenges and his own insecurities. What’s more, he unveils traits that became significant along the way. I think anyone destined to make a difference will benefit from reading the book.

3 Major Reasons

  • You gain insight about leadership and why it matters.

What became crystal clear early on was that the writer did not seek leadership roles; they sought him. As a result of pouring himself into his passion (teaching and research) an entrepreneurial leadership position developed. He co-founded MIPS Computer Systems and Atheros Communications.

Simply put, leaders are needed to shepherd various causes, leaders are needed to steer the course during storms, and leaders are needed to keep traditions alive and flourishing. Hennessy, for example, launched the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program to develop global leaders. Today it is the largest fully endowed graduate level scholarship program in the world.

With that said, the author offered good advice for readers:

1) Don’t get hung up on titles and accolades. When you keep first things first, the aforementioned comes. Yet, we all know people who do just the opposite.

2) Be prepared to serve; in short, leadership is service.

3) As the leader, you need others. You are not the lone soldier.

4) Use the mission as your anchor in difficult times.

  • You detect the significance of the traits.

What I enjoyed most was learning how the characteristics were strengthened through different challenges and opportunities. For example, Mr. Hennessy never planned on launching a company. Yet, he needed courage, collaboration and teamwork to bring what was birthed in the classroom to life.

By the way, he believes the necessary traits for leaders include humility, authenticity and trust, leadership as service, empathy, courage, collaboration and teamwork, innovation, intellectual curiosity, and storytelling. The presentation of each is straightforward. Moreover, you reap benefits and a deeper appreciation noting the application of the characteristic.

  • You gain resources for personal and/or professional development.

In addition to obtaining valuable insight about leadership, the author avails you of some of his favorite books. At the end of the book, you’ll find several lists of books categorized by topic. Like him, you can use them for personal or professional development.