Dr. Teddie Malangwasira’s new book Leadership Is Not About Race: How Leaders and Followers Inspire and Influence Each Other brings ideas about leadership into the twenty-first century by advocating for equal opportunity among leaders—in fact, this book levels the playing field by revealing that we are all leaders in our daily lives. By extension, you do not need to be the stereotypical white, eye-glass wearing, balding, middle-aged or older male to be a leader. Leaders can come from any race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other group designation you can imagine.
In his preface, Dr. Malangwasira describes how he wrote this book in the wake of the violence he has seen erupt in the United States in recent years—violence resulting from hate crimes, police brutality against African-Americans, and white supremacists trying to take back power. As an immigrant to the United States who was born in Malawi in Africa, Dr. Malangwasira has embraced the opportunities that exist within the United States, a country that promotes equality and diversity, but whose people often act in ways not congruent with those beliefs. By showing the flaws in discriminatory and racist behavior, Dr. Malangwasira reveals that there is no place for concerns over race when it comes to leadership; instead, everyone has the opportunity to become a leader and make a difference in the world.
But despite its title, there is far more to Leadership Is Not About Race than just the emphasis on the need for leaders to come from all areas of society. This is, first and foremost, an inspirational handbook on how to become a leader by overcoming the obstacles in front of you.
Dr. Malangwasira has learned to be a leader himself in his family, community, and as a teacher and scholar in his field. But he wasn’t always a leader. He grew up in a repressive country where the president controlled everything. In fact, you could not get an A in agriculture in school because, as Dr. Malangwasira explains, “Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the Life President of Malawi, had already passed with an ‘A.’ Since he was regarded as the messiah, nobody could pass with the same grade.” Dr. Malangwasira grew up in a post-colonial country in which the power of white rulers continued to influence the government and sustain the belief that whites were superior and, therefore, made the best leaders. Fortunately, Dr. Malangwasira was able to realize that these views of leaders were not true, and he was able to find a better way of life in the United States.
By clarifying what makes a true leader, Dr. Malangwasira allows readers to recognize true leadership and aspire to it. However, before leadership can happen, people must first become followers. Much of the book is devoted to how to become a good follower because without followers, there can be no leaders. Furthermore, in order to lead, you have to understand what it is to be a follower so you know your followers’ mindsets and how to motivate them.
The book is divided into twelve chapters on leadership and followership topics. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote and ends with a practical application exercise to allow readers to reflect on what was learned in the chapter and determine how they can apply it to their own lives and efforts to be leaders. Chapter titles include: “Leadership Approaches,” “Excellent Leadership Characteristics,” “Leading During Conflict,” and “Being an Effective Follower.” The chapters are divided into an outline format that allows readers to see the various points to be made at a glance and also to go back and easily find material they may later want to review. For example, in the “Leadership Approaches” chapter, three approaches are discussed: 1) character, 2) style, and 3) default. Each approach is defined and discussed and examples are provided.
One of the strongest points of Leadership Is Not About Race is the variety of examples that Dr. Malangwasira draws upon. There are personal, family-based examples. There are business examples, including Dr. Malangwasira using many of his own career examples from different companies he’s worked for, primarily in the food industry. Plus, numerous political examples—from state to national and international governments—are used to illustrate his points. The result is that people aspiring to all sorts of different leadership positions will be able to see how the various definitions and approaches apply to different fields, including their own.
Leadership Is Not About Race is practical and easy-to-read, yet strongly grounded in extensive research and real world examples. Anyone who wants to learn what it takes to be a leader—from how to be a good follower to how to overcome the obstacles that hold people back from leadership—will find a plethora of helpful information in this book.
For more information about Dr. Teddie Malangwasira and Leadership Is Not About Race: How Leaders and Followers Inspire and Influence Each Other, visit the author’s website.