Saturday , May 18 2024
The art and science of good leadership

Book Review: Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton by Rebecca Shambaugh

Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton is partly a portrait of the model leader we see in Hillary Clinton, partly traces the author’s own career development and her work in leadership roles, and in large part, is a self-help guide to identifying and improving our own leadership skills.

Whether you love Hillary Clinton’s politics or not, Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton shows us how a woman can rise to a strong leadership position despite a very difficult journey. With her careers as an attorney, First Lady of the U.S., state senator, presidential candidate, and now Secretary of State, her self-discipline and intellect serve her well. Author Rebecca Shambaugh says Hillary displays “The right communication style at the right time with the right people in the right way.”

Hillary Clinton’s leadership style has adapted to the today's business context with an innovative approach and a new way of thinking. Her style including studying the facts. She articulates her view and demonstrates the ability to build support for her ideas by “reaching across the aisle.” And, as we’ve seen, that aisle may be across the senate floor, across the world, or a kitchen table.

Among Clinton’s unique attributes, she is focused, listens, empathizes, is authentic, and diplomatic but blunt at times. Perhaps most revealing in Hillary Clinton’s development are her early years, where her sense of determination was built as a child. And it took her all the way to her 2008 "almost successful" run for U.S. president. We can see how she was truly driven to use her time and talents well, from her earliest years in school. Her parents greatly influenced her present drive, and never allowed her to be quitter.

Shambaugh provides examples of Clinton’s resilience, skills, behaviors and best practices. Yet Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton goes beyond a book about Hillary Clinton or about the author’s own work in leadership consulting. It also sets the stage for readers to improve their own stature and leadership abilities along the way. With this, we have a toolkit to take our skills to the next level.

We learn that leaders need to master resilience because they don’t always succeed the first time, and they must garner the energy and commitment from themselves and others in order to reach their goals. As Shambaugh says frequently throughout the book,

"…To be a leader you can’t wait for someone to hand you the instruction book."

While we may not all have the same aspirations as Clinton, we can learn a great deal from her. No matter how passionate or right you feel about something, you have to listen to the views of others if you want them to listen to you. Shambaugh explains how to have a difficult conversations, use active listening, and replace judgment with curiosity. When we listen, we need to pay attention to meaning and feeling, to know what the person is really saying.

Lastly, Shambaugh’s book points the way for us to consider leading with purpose in our own lives. While not a full biography of Hillary Clinton, the insights into her personal strengths and style in Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton will motivate anyone wishing to get ahead in the world.

About Helen Gallagher

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