Leadership is a hard characteristic to measure and quantify, but no one disputes its importance and influence, whether in a military setting or in the business world, or even in families, churches, organizations, and schools. Good leaders are essential to provide goal setting, objectives, expectations of team members, decision making, strategy and pathways to achieve desired results, and modelling desired behavior and outcomes for their followers. Good leaders can often raise an average team or organization to greater results. By contrast, bad leaders can drag down the morale and performance of even good teams.
The Civil War Battle of Gettysburg provided hundreds of examples of both good, effective leaders and those individuals who failed to rise to the challenge of leadership. In his new book Why You’re Already a Leader, author Paul Lloyd Hemphill examines 80 different situations at Gettysburg where people exhibited strong leadership in various ways, often rising above their own skills, background, and experience and inspiring others to new heights. Hemphill matches common traits found in strong leaders with their Gettysburg counterparts, examining how these characteristics were exhibited by soldiers and civilians at Gettysburg and how they relate to common challenges leaders face today in all walks of life. The practical examples and useful insights offer the reader some thought-provoking material to chew on; information and skills that will challenge the reader to determine is he or she would exhibit the same traits when under challenge or adversity.
Hemphill’s writing style is lucid and succinct, and the rapid fire, short-bursts of information, examples, and applications can be read in small doses to allow the reader to dwell on each story and find practical self-applications. The book can be read in daily journal format, with one or two stories at a time to challenge the reader to excel and emulate the example. Some of the stories and characters are quite well known (John Burns, Winfield Hancock, etc.), and others are common foot-soldiers or low ranking officers not familiar to many readers. However, their message and example shine through the years, offering opportunities for modern leaders to hone their skills.
Why You’re Already a Leader, by Paul Lloyd Hemphill. 2007, One White’s Pond Press, ISBN 0978548213, Barnes & Noble and other leading retailers. Paperback, 243 pages.