Why Authors of Great Leadership Books do not Always become Great Leaders ? The question was posted that way on LinkedIn by Atul Gupta and the responses were interesting.
I commented and here’s what I said:
Why are great coaches not always great players? Some highly successful coaches had successful pro careers (Tony Dungy comes quickly to mind). Other great coaches either didn’t play or were undistinguished. The key: coaching requires a different skill set. Knowledge of the game is essential and experience very helpful but neither are enough. Coaching requires additional skills. As an author I have always attempted to write based on my experiences as a leadership practitioner as well as my work with other leaders, but I have gained great insights from authors who studied leadership and extracted lessons soley from observation. Not all authors can lead nor can all leaders write books; John Gardner did both (check out his book “On Leadership.”)
It is interesting to me that the question was even posed…what prompted the question, I wonder? Without direct experience with each author, I can’t imagine how one would know if the author was a great leader or not. Leadership is not about visibility or profile, is it? One could be a great leader in the family, a church, a community organization. Certainly, someone could be a great leader even in a small company – size and scope of a company does not necessarily indicate leadership capabilities one way or another.
That being said, I agree with your observation that coaching (leadership) requires a different skill-set than a player. Similarly, sales management requires a different set of skills than a great salesperson. However, if one was writing about leadership (coaching), wouldn’t you suspect that the author understood and practiced those skills?
Thank you for telling us about John Gardner’s book, “On Leadership.” Am definitely going to look it up.
This is the first thought that came into my mind when I read “Why Authors of Great Leadership Books do not Always become Great Leaders?” Are writing and leading skills always interlinked?
While not all foodies are good cooks, excellent cooks are almost always great foodies too?
David R Gergen said so succinctly : “A reader is not always a leader, but a leader is always a reader”!
But in my professional career, even that has been proved to be wrong by a few leaders who are ‘remarkable leaders’ but insist that they are just not readers.
Thanks and regards.
John Gardner’s “On Leadership” remains at the top of the pile of excellent and useful writings on the subject [even atop your excellent works, he wrote patronizingly ;-)]. Well worth the read (and reference back over the years) by anyone. I still gift copies to emerging leaders.
Knowledge of something and Executing it are two different things. Execution may need an additional set of skills or a differect aspect of personality trait. ForEg. A very learned doctor may teach surgery but may fail to operate upon a patient !
It is well said that “Failures are the pillars of success.” The cases where you see that the authors of great leadership books did not turn out to be great leaders themselves, is just because they lacked that extra instinct or skill to excel in that role. But they were wise enough to understand what they lacked and pen it down for others to learn from their mistakes.