Book Review: The Portable Guide to Leading Organizations

David Burkus recently published The Portable Guide to Leading Organizations as the first original publication of LeaderLab Press. Before I review it though, I should disclose that Burkus is a friend of mine, and I occasionally contribute to LeaderLab, the website he founded.

This is Burkus’ first book, and it’s a tightly written summary of decades of complex leadership theories. Burkus has the rare talent of taking a complex theory and summarizing each in a few short words. It could and should be used by someone wanting to start understanding leadership theory. If you are trying to remember what the difference between trait theory and style theory is, flip open the book and read a concise summary of each. If you have the time, you would learn more by reading the original articles and books, but honestly, who has time to do that?

The book is not comprehensive, but it’s not meant to be (it’s portable). It is definitely not a textbook on leadership theory, but that’s okay. Most leadership theory textbooks are tough, slow and agonizing reads. You can fly through Burkus’ book in a half hour. It would make a great parting gift for any business/leadership/management graduate you might know. After I finish my doctorate, this book will be a handy reminder of all the theories I studied in my program.

My only critique is that I don’t agree with Burkus’ conclusion that the best leader is one who knows all the theories. Knowing them is one thing; applying them in practice is another. I’ll follow an effective practitioner who lives these theories over an effective scholar who recites them any day.

Few people effectively straddle both the practitioner and the scholarly world of leadership. Burkus provides a practical resource for those who want to and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an abbreviated guide to the complex world of leadership theory.


About Tim Vanderpyl
I am a student of leadership and human resources, and I'm blogging to share some of my thoughts and ideas with readers. I'm a CHRP (Certified Human Resource Professional) at a large healthcare organization, a graduate of Regent University's Doctor of Strategic Leadership program, and lover of the life that God has gifted me with.

One Response to Book Review: The Portable Guide to Leading Organizations

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Portable Guide to Leading Organizations ? Tim … | Honda Financial Address

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