Book Review : The Inspirational Leader by John Adair


The Inspirational Leader - John Adair

The lack of leadership can have disastrous effects on a society or an organization. At some point in our lives there comes a time when we need to lead people. As we grow older and climb the career ladder suddenly many of us find that we are leaders due to our position. Being an inspirational leader who can bring about change is a tough task.

In the book "The Inspirational Leader", John Adair explores various aspects of leadership. It is organized in the form of conversations between him and a young chief executive. Adair promises a roadmap to become an inspirational leader.  

Detailed Review

"The Inspiration Leader" is organized into 9 parts/40 chapters. The book contains a number of interesting quotes on leadership and every part contains a "key points" section. Adair starts the book with 3 essential approaches towards leadership. These are,

  • Qualities – What you are
  • Situational – What you know
  • Functional – What you do

He then goes on to the qualities of a great leader such as enthusiasm, integrity, warmth, courage, judgment and fairness. One of essential attributes of the leader is the moral superiority he enjoys due to his knowledge and skill in the area he is leading.  Similarly a leader needs to be decisive, yet individuals or groups whom you are leading should be part of that decision making process. Adair points out that in any organization, there are 3 overlapping areas of need – The common task, the team and individual. In order to meet these needs, there are many things that a leader should do.

Adair explores various levels of leadership. For example, there are some key differences between a strategic leader and an operational leader. He also explores the need for practical wisdom and the difference between managing and leading.  Some of the other key concepts discussed in the book are,

  • The importance of being fair and the implicit contract between the leader and the followers
  • What inspires people to go beyond the call of duty
  • Serve to lead (The first example that comes to my mind is that of Jesus)
  • A leader is a dealer in hope, trusts people and is a visionary


The book is sprinkled with interesting quotes on leadership and I liked it more than the book itself. Some of my favorites are,

I cannot hear what you say because what you are thunders at me!

Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others may receive your directions without being humiliated.

A vision without a task is a dream, As task without a vision is mere drudgery.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others – It is the only thing!

Adair claims that leaders are not born, but rather made. I don’t think that is completely true. I think there is an inherent genetic element associated with leadership and great leaders are born and their capability is complimented by their experience and wisdom. However I think that if anybody is determined enough and follows the basic principles, he can be a good leader. While discussing transformational leadership, Adair implies that other leadership gurus are using a lot of buzz words like vision, but doesn’t give any concrete instructions on becoming a great leader. The irony is that I felt the same about this book!

However it does give you an overview of leadership skills and is thought provoking.

My rating : 6 out of 10. Read it if you get it for free!

July 21, 2011 | Posted in Opinion No Comments » | By Jayson

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