Driven To Lead by Paul R. Lawrence - Book review

Driven to Lead

Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership

By: Paul R. Lawrence

Published: August 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 0470623845
ISBN-13: 978-0470623848
Publisher: Jossey-Bass

"Is bad leadership an inescapable part of the human condition?" writes the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Organizational Behavior, Emeritus at Harvard Business School Paul R. Lawrence, in his brilliant and provocative book Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership. The author turns that question around and describes what he considers good leadership, and that there is indeed the potential for bad leadership, but that condition is not a necessity that people must endure.

Paul Lawrence makes the bold assertion that from Wall Street to Washington, D.C., people who lack a conscience have made their way into leadership roles in business, government, and many other endeavors. Because these leaders lack that critical element of good leadership, writes the author, the result has been financial disaster, political and economic debacles, and hardship for millions of innocent people. Paul Lawrence describes the Wall Street financial collapse as being created knowingly for short term personal wealth acquisition, the accumulation of personal power, and a complete lack of regard for the well being of their own companies or the public at large. Paul Lawrence believes that leadership doesn't have to be so narrowly focused and disastrous for so many people.

Paul R. Lawrence (photo left) draws on the latest research in evolution and human behavior and applies these scientific principles to leadership. The result is the understanding that leadership of all types and varieties is a fundamental component of human nature. That leadership can be good, bad, or simply misguided in its intention, role, and application. Through this deeper realization of the human brain and its interaction with leadership, Paul Lawrence describes decision making and intent as being improvable and that good leadership skills and motivations can be learned and applied in the real world. The author describes the four drives that influence leadership:

* The drive to acquire material or social wealth
* The drive to bond in long term relationships
* The drive to learn and understand our world
* The drive to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and our property

The internal balance in these four basic human motivators can result in:

* Good leadership
* Misguided leadership
* Evil leadership

For me, the power of the book is how Paul Lawrence combines the latest scientific research into human behavior with its effect on leadership. Along with the utilizing the study of Darwinian brain evolution, the newest brain studies add strong support to the author's views on leadership. Paul Lawrence makes the point that the human brain was evolved to include leadership as a primary cerebral function. The different types of leadership, ranging from good to misguided to evil, are functions of the more basic human drives. For Paul Lawrence, these basic functions are out of balance in the modern leadership in corporations, politics, and other fields, resulting in leaders who act on their own behalf and not in support of the general public.

Paul Lawrence describes the leadership on Wall Street as being so out of balance that he emphasizes that these people generated the economic meltdown to acquire more wealth for themselves. The good news from the book is that the future of leadership doesn't have to be evil or out of balance. Paul Lawrence shares practical and readily applicable skills to nurture and develop good, well balanced leaders. The four drives model human nature is certain to become a standard psychological concept in the future.

I highly recommend the seminal and comprehensive book Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership by Paul R. Lawrence, to anyone seeking a very readable and insightful book into why leadership goes wrong, and how to create good leaders, who possess a balance of the basic human drives. This book could not be more timely, or indeed, more necessary than today. Whether a person examines leaders in politics or on Wall Street, it's clear that there is a crisis of balance within the leadership ranks. Paul Lawrence presents a blueprint for changing those circumstances for the better, both now and for the next generations.

Read the important and landmark book Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership by Paul R. Lawrence, and begin your understanding of how leadership can be improved to work for the benefit of all people. This book is required reading for everyone at all levels government, in large and small businesses, in community development, and non-profit organizations. This book will transform the way that you think about leaders and their motivations forever.

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