Imperfect Leadership: A book for leaders who know they don't know it all20.00
- This book celebrates imperfect leadership, showing a human side for such roles.
- A collection of high-profile speeches are shared throughout, often challenging thinking, policies, or politicians.
- Offers insights for those already within a leadership role, or for those who are thinking about the leadership ladder.
- The book describes a leadership approach that is strong on self-awareness and positive about the importance of asking for help.
- Explores how the notion that a leader needs to be good at all aspects of leadership is unrealistic.
Anyone placed into a leadership role has great responsibility thrust upon them. Some leaders shine to the challenge and make things happen, whereas others are not really up to the responsibility, making judgement errors and decisions that can negatively impact on those who work under them. In a recent #UKEdChat discussion about ‘Great Leadership’ (click to see archive), one particularly great insight was shared that resonated with many…
The great leaders are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them. (Shared via @IanThomp)
Coincidently, I saw the comment above at the time I received the book ‘Imperfect Leadership’ ready for review and it stayed with me throughout preparing this review article. You see, Steve Munby has been involved in educational leadership now for quite a few decades, but openly admits that leadership is not – and should not be – a sole responsibility. In the opening gambit of his book, Steve shares (wisely) that, once in a leadership position, he started asking individuals (some with significant influence), to voluntarily mentor him to become an effective leader himself. Such a tactic is very wise, as people feel humbled and compelled to help, and the external perspective advice offered cannot be easily encountered in any other way. Something I will be considering in my roles.
Unlike any other book I have encountered, Steve shares a selection of talks he has given over the years, often given the lectern due to his high-profile roles, offering insight, guidance and wisdom – often challenging policy-decisions or politicians. Through his experiences, Steve celebrates imperfect leaders sharing many fears that individuals will encounter within their role. For instance: imperfect leaders worry about getting it wrong today (sometimes too much) but they are even more concerned about getting it right tomorrow; imperfect leaders are aware of their own weaknesses, or; imperfect leaders have an ego but they try to keep it under control. There are many other pearls of wisdom similar, and the chapter on Ethical Leadership is truly worth attention as the moral purposes of leadership are considered, with the accompanying speech highlighting unethical behaviours made by leaders – due to considerable pressures – resulting in being them, or their staff, being banned from the teaching profession – is that really the state our education system has come to? Is that really the state that we want to see in our education system?
Furthermore, the book delves into how Steve’s own leadership developed as his personal context changed, and explores how the notion that a leader needs to be good at all aspects of leadership is not only unrealistic, but is also bad for the mental and physical health of leaders and will do nothing to attract new people into leadership positions.
The book is very England-centric, and even though there is a consideration to international education systems, those involved within the education system within England will be very aware of the political issues, pressures and considerations discussed throughout the book. However, readers from outside the England education system can use this book as a means of comparison of their own educational systems, as many pressured highlighted for leaders will resonate across borders and within different educational environments.
Imperfect Leadership, by Steve Munby, is very auto-biographical by tone, but by being presented in this way does not dictate to the reader, nor does it show a clear path to successful leadership. The book merely offers stories and experiences that show insights from Munby’s career, along with significant lessons he has gained through his high-profile roles – I just hope that the reader who picks up this book as they step into a new leadership role take heed from the words in a speech declaring that leaders must ‘wear the cloak of leadership with dignity and care’ (p.89). Hear, hear!