Mark Schenk - Anecdote

mark schenk
One of my favourite sayings is 'managers read and write; leaders talk and listen'. This book is focused squarely on leadership.

In early 2016, I sat across the breakfast table from Tracey in the Swanepoel family home. I'd just spent 3 enjoyable days launching our business storytelling program in South Africa, kicking the football with her son Zack, eating and drinking very well and meeting some very interesting people. Over breakfast, Tracey spoke about her book which was in the very final stages of editing.

"But I still don't have a title for it" she said, with more than a little frustration. So, I asked why she'd written the book. Tracey explained that, in many organisations, there is too much management and not enough leadership. "It's as if leaders are caught in a riptide" she explained. "We keep implementing new processes (performance management, capability development, strategic planning etc) and, like trying to swim against a riptide, we just don't get any closer to the shore. We have to change the way we swim."  I found riptide metaphor very useful, so I suggested the name that now appears on the cover. Having now read the book, I am proud to have made this minute contribution to it.

Topics like transparency, strategic clarity, respect, listening, engagement, humanity and authentic leadership have countless business books dedicated to them. Most talk about the benefits of these things and have considerable theory to support them. But they mostly don't tell you how to do it.  Tracey's book is a bit different. In it, she describes not only why these things are vital for business success in the 21st century, she gives a detailed account of how a small gold mine in South Africa applied them and in the process became a global powerhouse in the mining industry. It's an inspiring account of how these things are achievable. Tracey's book shows that leaders can 'change the way they swim' and in the process, achieve the results they desire and that their people deserve.

As I wrote this review and reflected on how I felt about the book, I realised that a very rare thing had happened. I got to end and was disappointed there wasn't more. Normally I finish a book with relief. Most business books have one or two great ideas which are covered in the first few chapters and much of the rest is padding. Tracey's book kept me interested till the final page. I commend it to you - it might help change the way you think about your role as a leader.

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