Follow Your Conscience, Frank Sonnenberg’s latest book, came out this week … and we are all better for this having happened.
NUTSHELL: More leadership and life wisdom in easy-to-digest short essays than most of the larger and heavier books published over the past twenty years or so.
Frank convinces us with clear statements that moral character really is the critical element in living our lives and leading others in a positive and effective way.
LANDSCAPE: Frank is not a novelist … you will find no gripping story of a young leader’s journey or a small group who change an industry or the world.
Frank is also not a hard-core academic, using many impressive charts, graphs, and statistics, all cleverly and completely presented to support a particular theory or model. No footnotes, no lengthy bibliography, no ready-to-franchise “solutions” here.
Instead, you will find a collection of short observations, averaging four pages or so for each specific topic, arranged in four distinct categories, which I briefly discuss below:
CHARACTER MATTERS: Frank considers just about every aspect of character you can name in 24 distinct essays. My personal favorite is “Leadership” (p. 55-58) where Frank rants nicely on “counterfeit leaders”, who “masquerade as positive role models” (p. 55). He gives us a great list of questions to help us evaluate both ourselves and others for signs of being fake, along with positive behaviors that we ought to display as leaders.
Other titles in this section are equally clear and to the point, dealing with such issues as courage, honesty, hard work, humility, honor, and so on. You can start wherever you like and jump around as much as you want, because the treasure is scattered everywhere in this book.
LIFE LESSONS: A shorter section with more focus on story-telling, Life Lessons illustrates and supports Frank’s basic proposition of living a life based on solid moral character. I found much to enjoy here, but one entry stands out: “Bluffing Your Way To The Top” (p. 123-125), where Frank skewers those folks among us who have titles, positions, and powers, but did not earn them in honorable or legitimate ways.
Frank has a message for those folks and I am dancing in the background with delight, as he points out that “The day will come when their ways come back to bite them. GOTCHA?” (p. 123). Whether this is true or not, it speaks to a part of me that wants justice and fairness to prevail.
CHALLENGES: Frank also notes some character flaws that get in the way of our leading better lives and being better leaders.
In “Ethics As Usual” (p. 177-179),he talks about the current problematic state of business and political leadership, then shares a concise list of behaviors that we all must adopt and practice, if we are to change the situation and restore ethical behavior in our society.
The problem is clearly stated and the solution equally so …
RESOURCES: Several lists that offer more thought-provoking value to us around life and leadership issues. Frank saves the best for last here, with “It’s The Little Things That Count”, (p. 203), where he provides us with a list of 50 specific actions we can take to improve our lives and the lives of those we serve … guaranteed.
Yes, the list IS suitable for framing.
QUOTE QUOTIENT: In the high 80’s … in my view, the higher the percentage of quotable statements, the better and this title delivers abundantly.
Frank’s writing style is clear, concise, and he knows how to turn a phrase, as the saying goes. I found my trusty highlighter running dry, as I found many quotable lines in just about every paragraph. My average is more around 30-35%. If you enjoy clearly stated and thought-provoking language, you are going to love this book.
For proof, check out the stream of quotes by Frank being sprinkled throughout my Tumblr stream at Strategic Learning Today.
BOTTOM LINE: If you want a better life, to be a better leader, or simply enjoy positive, but realistic thinking, Follow Your Conscience is for you …
This easy-to-read collection offers some of the best and clearest thinking I have seen about how we should and could be. If you do not find value in these straight-forward and inspiring thoughts, I feel sorry for you.
Frank Sonnenberg appears to be a genuinely fun guy to work for or with, follow closely on multiple online channels, and just plain hang out with. I think I’ll buy him a beer someday …
Finding much to like in a small package today in the Heartland ….
ABOUT FRANK SONNENBERG
Frank is an award-winning author. He has written five books and over 300 articles.
He was recently named one of “America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders” and nominated as one of “America’s Most Influential Small Business Experts.”
Frank has served on several boards and has consulted to some of the largest and most respected companies in the world.
Additionally, FrankSonnenbergOnline was named among the “Best 21st Century Leadership Blogs.”
Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of Follow Your Conscience, which 1) did not influence my opinions about its value or usefulness, and 2) just made my Christmas gift list for some of my family and friends who care about living life more positively.