26 September 2011

Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader - Book Review



Let me preface my comments by pointing out that I have never read a book focused in this arena before.  Honestly, I have seen a number of books promoted in a manner similar to Creating Personal Presence and have been turned off simply because they appeared to focus on rudimentary or superficial issues when it came to the idea of becoming a more successful entity in a corporate sense.  That being said, I was extremely impressed with both the depth and positive nuance of Creating Personal Presence.  I was surprised at how captivated I became with the content of the text and how easy it was to draw correlations between the examples in the book and the realities of my own performance.

I envision the book as a primer in teaching leaders the ability to develop the personal skills required of a leader.  I’ve managed core groups of leadership (in the Army) who are responsible for ensuring the well-being of different aspects of company operations.  While I am always blown away by the technical competency of those I’ve worked with, I find myself constantly having to work with some of my most proficient section leaders in learning how to present themselves properly as a leader as well as how to project authority through their presence.  I would love to be able to assign Creating Personal Presence as a resource to assist my management in developing the interpersonal skills that allow them to translate their competence into holistic leadership abilities. 

I felt that the material was presented in a manner that was balanced in terms of maintaining a positive and encouraging atmosphere while at the same time demanding improved performance.  Booher avoids blame and instead focused on how to develop leadership despite individual circumstances.  I enjoyed that the book assumes an amount of personal success on behalf of the reader dodging the ever looming “bootstraps” mentality.  I found that by starting from a level at which technical competence was assumed allowed the book to be more inviting.  Overall the material had more of a coaching/mentoring feel to it.

I like that the book incorporates the author’s research into the field citing the exact nature of specific studies and even including the questions posed to those interviewed. I think these add weight to the ideas presented and clarify the author’s authority in the field.  The narratives do an excellent job of creating opportunities for personal introspection and add entertainment value to the text.  I found myself drawing similarities between my own performance and the characters discussed.

I found that the book addressed a topic that I struggle with both in my actual job and in my Army career… that is learning to convey what I know in a manner that other people flock to.  It’s one thing to know a field, but it’s another to be able to convey that knowledge.  The book does a terrific job of explaining presence and why it’s important to advance in the work place.