Redefining Leadership by Joseph Stowell

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.

Many books have been written about leadership and management. They discuss techniques, goal setting, strategies, and the like. This book…does not do that.

Instead, it deals with the heart of leadership: the leader’s character. Above all else, Mr. Stowell’s book address this key issue: a leader cannot lead until he/she has first led himself/herself.

Stowell uses the vanguard of leadership examples, Jesus Christ, to show that He was respected and loved because He led with character.Christ did use his position for personal gain, to belittle others so as to prop Himself up. Rather, He did what was right, leading with character, and exemplified values that were grounded in truth.

Stowell discusses how Jesus did this by dividing his book into three sections: A Redefined Priority, A Redefined Identity, and A Redefined Leader.

In A Redefined Priority, Stowell addresses areas in a leader’s life that set the stage for prioritizing what is important in leading others. He examines items like: choices being made, defining success, and the importance of character in decision making. He also focuses on myths to which leaders may fall prey.

These myths are usually encompassed by an outcome-based mentality. If things are going well, profits are up, costs are down, then I am a good leader. Another myth is that the growing size of a company is the sign of excellent leadership. This may not be the case as Stowell points out that a company may grow by cheating, lying, or other unethical practices. Instead, A Redefined Priority puts the attention where it should be: character development. This segues into A Redefined Identity.

The section of A Redefined Identity deals with how should be identified. Characteristics like: follower of Jesus, moral, learner, and shepherd. Stowell makes his case that leader who lead by following Christ are the best leaders because they have a goal of imitating the one they follow; Jesus. This produces a heart of love. Love for Jesus and by extension, love for the followers. When love is present then the topic of the third section, A Redefined Leader, comes forth.

A Redefined Leader expounds on section one in that it deals with the character traits that a leader should have and continue to develop. Traits such as reliance, meek, and merciful are examined to show how a leader displays these traits. They may be displayed both internal to the company and external to the company. The way in which a leader addresses the competition will show if the leader has adopted his/her redefined way of life.

The book then culminates with the redefined expectation and that being: the magnification of Jesus with her/his life. To this I say “amen!” No leader will truly fail with this as the leadership motto.

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