Category Archives: Defining Leadership: Theories & Models

These books are evidence based explorations of leadership and may elaborate on theories or models (e.g. authentic leadership, transformational leadership).

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Leaders Eat Last

Citation for Book: Sinek, Simon. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.  New York, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2014

Recommended by: : Jack J. Chen, Marshall B. Ketchum University

Star Rating (1-5): 5

Review: Leaders Eat Last. This sums up leadership behavior. The title of the book is derived from an observation of culture in the US Marines in which the leaders eat last, placing the needs of others above their own, and illustrating that leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest. Another corollary example he gives is that leaders provide cover from above; allowing the people on the ground to feel safe. This instills loyalty and drives people to excel in situations.

Writing in an easy to understand manner, Mr. Sineks speaks about leadership from an anthropological voice and utilizes facts and observations to illustrate his points. Much of what is discussed relates to organic attributes (such as empathy, integrity, sense of belonging, teamwork, selfishness, distrust, and trust) and how a leader can be more in tune with these primal elements to foster an environment for a healthier organization. The title of the book resonates with me because I immediately understand it’s anthropological underpinnings. As a parent, I often eat last and provide cover from above to my family and children. As an organizational leader, the challenge will be to live up to this credo.

In this book, the anthropological and primal concept of the Circle of Safety is introduced. Leaders, by reducing the threats people feel inside an organization, allows them to focus more time and energy to protect the organization from external threats and to seize opportunities for the advancing the collective. He gives illustrations on how incentive structures within organizations can penalize employees for behaviors such as cooperation, information sharing, or reaching across the organization to ask for or offer help; behaviors that are necessary for maintaining the Circle of Safety. Mr. Sinek devotes 2 chapters on discussing and illustrating the role of neurotransmitters and molecules (e.g., cortisol, dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin) as organic mediators of human behavior, neurocognition, stress, trust, and the Circle of Safety. Mr. Sinek then weaves these organic concepts throughout his book.

Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives and not numbers. Mr. Sinek believes this and provides corollaries to describe the modern state of business cultures in which the sheer scale of systems has made human lives, resources and services into an abstraction of numerical metrics. He provides a clarion call for managers of metrics to become leaders of people. Values alignment is heavily emphasized. If people have values consistent with the organization and they feel trusted and connected, they will excel.

Mr. Sinek speaks about the role of technology throughout the various “generations” (e.g., Gen X and Y), and how it has allowed the unprecedented “upscaling” of world and certain elements such as acquisitions, economies, performances, and processes. As I reflected, I realized that in the world of education, despite technological advances in instructional tools and delivery, our students’ inherent “learning speed” cannot be scaled up by technology (despite what we or our students think) and that time-tested, traditional methods of andragogy/pedagogy still have a fundamental place in the classroom. My students are someone’s children. Their parents worked hard to give their children an opportunity for a good life and education. As an academician, I have responsibility for that education.


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Filed under Changing Perceptions/Paradigms, Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Instructor Resources

Mind of a Manager Soul of a Leader

Mind of a managerHickman, CR. Mind of a Manager, Soul of a Leader. New York, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1992.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, Regis University School of Pharmacy

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: As the title suggest, Mind of a Manager, Soul of a Leader explores the differences between managers and leaders and between management and leadership. At the heart of this book is the premise that any successful enterprise requires both effective managers and effective leaders, and Hickman explores how the skills of each may be best leveraged. I recommend this book to leader development instructors who are looking for ideas on how to explain the difference between leadership and management or are looking for an effective argument that both are necessary for success.

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Filed under Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Instructor Resources

Heroic Leadership

Heroic LeadershipLowney, C.  Heroic Leadership. Chicago, Illinois: Loyola Press, 2003.

Recommended b: Michael Nelson, Regis University School of Pharmacy

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: Heroic Leadership discusses leadership in the context of the “4 Pillars” of leadership principles that the early Jesuits practiced. The result was a game-changer for religious orders, in which the Jesuits became a religious order which sought to help others through solidarity and education, rather than by seclusion in a monastery. Given the times, the early Jesuits were amazingly successful at leading this change, and time has proven their sustainability as evidenced by the present-day impact of Jesuit higher education.  Lowney argues that these principles are timeless and critical to effective leadership, and that leadership is much more of a personal journey rather than learning a set of leadership tips. I recommend this book for those who would like to read a book with a refreshingly different approach to addressing timeless leadership principles.

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Authentic Leadership

George, B. Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Recommended by Jenelle Sobotka

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Filed under Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Personal Development

The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know

Kouzes, J. and Posner, B. The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2010.

Recommended by Kristin Janke, U of MN, CoP

Star Rating: 4 (Really Like It)

Review:    Admittedly, I’m a K and P fan.  I find their writing to be very practical, approachable and dense with examples that resonate with me.  For students that are new to leadership studies, this may be a helpful place to start.  It covers a lot of ground quickly, helping the reader to more concretely describe leadership.  I’ve also recommended it to students that have studied leadership for a while (i.e. at the end of our Leadership Emphasis Area) and they’ve gobbled it up.  It puts a lot of reminders all in one place and functions as a good summary of things to keep in mind.  As a result, they’ve found it invigorating.

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Filed under Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Pharmacy Student Electives-Introductory

The Student Leadership Challenge

Kouzes, J. and Posner, B. The Student Leadership Challenge. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2008.

Recommended by Kristin Janke, U of MN CoP

Star Rating: 3 (Liked It)

Review:  We’ve used this book since 2009 in our spring leadership elective.  We use it in combination with the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (SLPI), which allows students to self assess their leadership, as well as obtain peer assessment.  The book provides substance in helping them to interpret their results, by thoroughly explaining the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.  The combination of the book and assessment lays a strong foundation that we refer to often throughout our sequence.  It’s also easy to explain the Five Practices to others, so we’ve been able to bring it into other parts of student life (e.g. admissions to Phi Lambda Sigma).  I think this book is better than the Leadership Challenge for students.  It’s shorter and comes from a student perspective.  The only downside… I wish the examples weren’t so focused on student organizational leadership.

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Filed under Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Pharmacy Student Electives-Introductory, Skill Building