Start your summer reading list with “Leadership: A Very Short Introduction.”
Here’s 3 reasons why you absolutely need to read this book.
First, it’s A Very Short Introduction.
Seriously. I love this series. It’s brilliant. If you are looking for an introduction that’s more substantive than Wikipedia and yet equally approachable, then you need to try some Very Short Introductions. Among other topics, I’ve spent free time learning about globalization, science fiction, and historiography. Oxford University Press publishes these books, selecting experts as authors. The series includes over 300 volumes, and they average under 200 pages in length.
Second, it would have helped me with my PhD Comps.
Part of preparing for a comprehensive exam is the skill of summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing multiple sources addressing the same topic. The VSI series does that. For the leadership edition, the result is a helpful overview of the development of thinking about leadership as well as commentary on issues such as how we define leadership, the proverbial question of whether leaders are born or made, how leaders lead, and followership.
Third, it’s a great argument for collaborative leadership.
What immediately caught my attention about the book was its discussion on “wicked problems” vs. “technical” ones. Technical problems are fairly linear and have definitive solutions. “Wicked” problems are “wicked” in that they don’t have definitive solutions. They are often systemic problems that involve so many factors that one single POV simply can’t address all the issues. As such, wicked problems require collaborative efforts. While the distinction between wicked and technical problems is not new, I found this distinction at the outset of the book to be a helpful reminder.