The Art of Inspiring People to be Their Best
Craig B. Whelden
New Insights Press, Los Angeles, 2019, 186 pages
Book Review published on: April 24, 2020
In the book Leadership: The Art of Inspiring People to Be Their Best, Craig Whelden uses convincing and stimulating prose to describe the principles that led to his success as a leader. He served as an Army general officer and a member of the Marine Corps Senior Executive Service, and he shares his leadership insights and experiences in this book to help others grow professionally and effectively in any organization. A central theme throughout this book features the concept of universal rules of leadership that apply to any profession. Foremost is accomplishing a mission and taking care of soldiers and their families. This publication is an outstanding reference for those who proudly serve the nation in uniform and also for individuals who work in the private sector.
This book is organized in twenty-four short chapters, each with captivating titles and inspirational quotes from great leaders around the world. Whelden incorporates vignettes with personal leadership examples and lessons in each chapter. These vignettes not only apply to a military environment but also to those working in corporations, to those working for not-for-profit organizations, and to those leading volunteers and contractors. Whelden begins by discussing character, the essential quality for all remarkable leaders. He then addresses the importance of trust, effective communication, loyalty to subordinates and to organization, breaking down cultural barriers, understanding change, managing risk, and many other topics critical to successful leadership. The author also includes two appendices that include important professional tools used throughout his career. The first tool is his philosophy of command and the second tool is a self-reflection of his leadership qualities. Integrity and humility are core elements of his leadership philosophy. The author is a servant leader who consistently looks for ways to help others succeed. Whelden’s writing style is simple, easy to read, and easy to understand. He explains each challenge clearly and provides creative solutions to solve problems. Readers will gain an appreciation of the values he believes describe a great leader.
Whelden’s experiences of leading organizations through tumultuous change and times of crisis distinguishes this book from other leadership publications. He describes the evolution of the U.S. Army during his military career from 1973 to 2003, including the end of the Vietnam War, discontinuing the draft, the benefits of the all-volunteer force, the employment of joint doctrine, and U.S. conflicts at the start of the twenty-first century. America owes Whelden and those who served during this difficult time its appreciation for their unwavering service and support to this country.
The most inspirational part of this book was Whelden’s thoughts on leaving a legacy. He believes in order for a true leader to improve an organization, he or she must create something meaningful that lasts beyond his or her tenure, and the leader must make a contribution to future generations. Whelden describes how, while serving as the commander of the Community and Family Support Center, he obtained congressional resources to modernize installation fitness centers; led the effort to acquire commercial investments to improve post facilities; and renovated several world-class Armed Forces Recreation Centers, including the Shades of Green at Walt Disney World. His outstanding efforts significantly improved programs and services to support military personnel and their families for years to come.
Leadership: The Art of Inspiring People to Be Their Best is a thought-provoking book that brilliantly describes the true nature of great leadership. Once readers begin this book, they will not want to put it down. Whelden’s valuable insights on effective leadership are critical for military officers and civilian leaders. These are turbulent times, and the tools and techniques that he shares are critically important as individuals pursue their careers and assume greater levels of responsibility. We can only hope that the many readers of this book will find in his examples inspiration and resolve to be the very best at leading others.
Book Review written by: Lt. Col. Mark F. Kormos, U.S. Army, Retired, Fort Belvoir, Virginia