A Passion for Leadership Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service by Robert Gates, Instaread summary
Five out of five stars
Five out of five stars
Former U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is one of the most impressive individuals to have served in a high position in the government for a long time. His resume is strong, but the most significant feature is how he conducted himself while serving the last two presidents. Incoming President Obama thought so highly of Gates that he was asked to stay as the Secretary of Defense for some time beyond the change of administrations. With such solid credentials, Gates is someone that should be paid attention to when he talks about leadership.
The U. S. Defense Department is perhaps the most complex organization in the world. The head must not only exert their authority over a large budget, a vast and globally deployed military, occasionally difficult orders from the president, heads of other countries, both friends and adversaries, as well as members of Congress that are often more interested in playing to the crowd rather than effectively governing.
Other than the last two that deal with the specifics of the U. S. federal government, the key takeaways could appear in any book about leadership. The first one sets the stage for all that follow:
“Leaders must provide their organizations with goals and a clear vision of the future.”
If a leader does not do this, then all else is unattainable. Even the slightest drift and uncertainty can make the best execution plan difficult to execute.
The key concept that the reader pulls away from this summary is that Gates does not descend into the “Rah-rah” nonsense that some authors of leadership books descend to. Gates’ principles are sound and the references to events during his tenure as Secretary of Defense are guaranteed to make the book interesting reading.
I came away with a desire to read the entire book, unlike so many people that make grandiose claims that they are a leader, Gates is one. In the political silliness that is the current presidential campaign in the United States, one pines for a person like this.
This book was made available for free for review purposes