Book Review – Leading People By Lloyd Baird

Leading peopleLeading People by Lloyd Baird is another book from the HBS Press Pocket Mentor Series that covers topics aimed at developing managers. This book focuses on leadership skills. As is the custom with the books in this series, the book is divided into two parts. The first part covers the main content and the second part provides some extra tools and tips around the topic on discussion. Both parts are briefly reviewed below.




The challenge of contemporary leadership

This section expresses the importance of developing leadership skills especially for managers. It also distinguishes between management and leadership, but also recognises that effective managers do need leadership skills.

What makes an effective leader?

Three types of leaders and their qualities are discussed. These leader types are:

  • Charismatic leaders
  • Transformational leaders
  • Pragmatic leaders

The qualities of effective leaders are also discussed and a questionnaire is provided for readers to access themselves against the qualities of effective leaders.

How to acquire leadership skills

Three ways to acquire leadership skills are described which are:

  1. Enrol in formal leadership programmes
  2. Learn from experience
  3. Find a true mentor

Six different leadership styles are also explained and the importance of being able to adapt to the leadership styles based on the situation and context. Here are the six leadership styles discussed:

  1. Coercive
  2. Authoritative
  3. Affiliative
  4. Democratic
  5. Pacesetting
  6. Coaching

How to craft a vision

Having a clear vision is a crucial aspect of leadership and this section focuses on what is involved in developing a vision. It starts out answering two key questions which are:

  • Where does your vision fit into the organisational scheme?
  • What comprises a clearly stated empowering vision?

Next the steps for developing a vision are outlined. They are:

  • Consider first the shared values and ideals of the organisation.
  • Discuss your ideas with various stakeholders.
  • Make sure that all perspectives are represented.
  • Use the results of your research wisely.
  • Ask your team to provide reality checks to help clarify the vision.
  • Clearly define the vision’s benefits to all involved.
  • Think in terms of satisfying deep human needs.

A worksheet for crafting a vision is also provided towards the end of this section of the book.

How to motivate the people you need

Five important topics are covered in this section. Firstly, the author discusses how to work with people that can either support or hinder a vision. Then the importance of caring for people is discussed. This is seen as a primary role of the manager to influence people to work towards achieving a vision. The next topic discussed is how to create a trusting environment. This is necessary to create a cohesive team that can work towards a vision. We are finally reminded of the importance of adapting leader styles to match up with the different capabilities, needs and growth potential of team members.

Two worksheets on how to establish credibility and how to keep staff and allies motivated are provided towards the end of the section.

How to care for yourself

This is the final section in this part of the book, and it deals with a very important area, how managers can care for themselves. Seven steps managers can take to do this are suggested and they are:

  1. Talk to a confidant regularly
  2. Get a mentor
  3. Refine your skills through professional development seminars
  4. Find a place to go where you can reflect
  5. Don’t take criticism personal.
  6. Practice relaxation techniques
  7. Exercise regularly


This second part of the book collects all the worksheets presented in different parts of the book in one place. It also has ten multiple-choice questions to test your knowledge of what you read in the book. The final section provides extra learning resources on leadership.

While this is a short book with just 85 pages, it does contain some very useful information that can help managers develop leadership skills.

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