The Leadership Moment The Leadership Moment is a collection of nine true stories of triumph and disaster and their lessons for us all. The stories are familiar: Eugene Kranz and Apollo 13; John Gutfreund and Salomon Brothers; Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Civil War, to name a few. The stories are drawn from the past and present, represent a wide-range of challenges that include both natural and man-made disasters, and illustrate lessons of success and failure. The author, Michael Useem, is the director of the Wharton Schools Center for Leadership and Change Management. He does a superb job of relating the events and definitive moments of each narrative. Events unfold with the right mix of facts and drama to keep the reader interested.
Lessons, or implications as Useem calls them, are woven throughout the narratives. Charts and pictures supplement the text where appropriate. The nine stories are sandwiched by an introduction and conclusion. All the implications presented in the book, about 40, are summarized in a final chapter called A Leader’s Guide. The book assumes that much can be learned about leadership by the successes and failures of others.
The author’s concluding chapter extracts nine leadership principles from the nine leadership moments: know yourself, explain yourself, expect much, gain commitment, build now, prepare yourself, move fast, find yourself, and remain steadfast. The Leadership Moment reads like an adventure novel. Even the books cover, mountain climbers trudging up a foreboding slope, promotes a sense of intrigue and danger. Useem is a great storyteller. His selection of narratives provokes many thoughts about leadership triumphs and disasters. My only real frustrations with the book stem from the implications and the nine leadership principles. The 40 implications that Useem introduces across the nine chapters can overwhelm a reader. Even though he summarizes them in the Leadership Guide, I doubt most people will remember more than about five once they put the book away.
Readers will more likely remember the nine short-and-simple principles. Unfortunately, their introduction at the end of the book gives the appearance that they are an afterthought. Useem should introduce them at the beginning and help the reader understand the context for selecting each narrative. The Leadership Moment is easy reading. I kept the book in my car and read it during the 10-15 minutes I often spend waiting to pick up my daughter at school or the bus stop.
The short-story format is perfect for the person with lots of fragmented time. The Leadership Moment is a great addition to your reading list. Lynn Heinrichs is associate dean of the College of Business and associate professor of computer information systems. Her interests include data communications, networks, and information technology management Book Reports.