In The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, Jenni Catron uses the Great Commandment to establish four aspects of great leadership.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
Using these four dimensions – heart, soul, mind and strength – the author presents an argument that any leader can grow in each of these areas simply by understanding their own abilities within each of them and focusing on growing their skills in the areas they are not naturally strong in.
I loved this book. I found the writing easy to follow, fun to read and filled with personal stories and lessons learned. I believe this to be one of the best books on leadership I’ve read in a long time and also THE easiest to put in to practice. Even before taking the little assessment provided within the book, I immediately knew which of the four areas I excel in and which I need to work on. The concept of the book is that the scripture we know as the Great Commandment gives us instruction on how to live our lives – with all of who we are (heart, soul, mind and strength) – and that we should lead in the same way (with all of who we are).
“..when I consider my life as a leader, it means leading with all of who I am for the benefit of God and others. Leadership requires all of me – my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. To not give all of me would be to shortchange God and others of what God has given me.” (xvii)
Here’s a quick run down of each of the areas. All of these descriptions are from the Introduction of the book.
Heart (Relational Leadership) – “The heart of a leader is the truest part of who he or she is. Your heart is the center of your emotions, desires, and wishes. Your heart is what most connects you with others.”
Soul (Spiritual Leadership) – “The soul is the part of us that longs to know God. It’s the epicenter of morality, integrity, humility, and servanthood.”
Mind (Managerial Leadership) – “The mind is the seat of intellectual activity. It is what enables us to deliberate, to process, to reflect, to ponder, and to remember. The mind enables us to strategize and to make plans.”
Strength (Visionary Leadership) – “Visionary leadership means keeping hope and possibility in front of yourself and those you lead. It’s recognizing that your job as a leader is chief vision caster every day.”
There are many leadership books that give about a chapter of real information and then just circle around that information over and over again to make an entire book. This is NOT one of those types of books. This book is filled with good and practical information. I found myself making lists as I went along of things I need to work on or think through. There are self-reflection questions throughout and discussion questions at the end of each chapter – all of which are extremely helpful. After reading this book, I feel like I have the most accurate picture of my leadership that I have ever had and also the tools I need to grow in my ability to lead. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a desire to be a better leader. It would be especially helpful for entire teams to work through this book together.
After talking through each of the four areas of extraordinary leadership, the last chapter of the book gives practical advice as to what steps to take, how to put it all together, and how to continue to grow in each of the areas over time. I am already taking steps towards growth and am excited about the journey that this book has begun in me.
“Extraordinary leadership emerges from a commitment deep within us. It’s not a fad to follow or a new method to model. Leading with everything we are means putting everything we have on the line for the cause we are compelled by. Heart, soul, mind, and strength leaders know their leadership takes work, engagement, commitment, perseverance, and determination.” (p185)