Author: Doug Moran

Publisher: AGATE Publishing, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1932841589, 276 pages


“If–,” the famous poem by Victorian poet Rudyard Kipling, captures the essence of modern-day leadership. Leadership consultant Doug Moran offers a fascinating, instructive perspective that identifies the “If Sixteen Leadership Attributes” that Kipling’s poem describes. Moran’s well-researched biographies of historic figures illustrate qualities Kipling found essential to great leadership. getAbstract recommends Moran’s insights to students of history and to good leaders seeking to become great.

“Rudyard Kipling as Leadership Guru”

Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 to English expatriates living in Bombay, India. At age 24, he moved to England, where he gained literary success, prosperity and acclaim for his poetry, short stories and books. Kipling won the Nobel Prize in 1907 and published “If–” in 1910. He hobnobbed with many of his era’s political, literary and social leaders. Kipling continued to write until his death at age 70 in 1936.


Using Kipling’s classic poem “If–” as a leadership model

Exercising excellent leadership requires the fortitude to accept the challenges of being in charge. Kipling cautioned that “leadership is not about attaining perfection,” but instead committing to greater awareness and better choices. His poem “If–” defines 16 leadership traits that make up “the If Sixteen Leadership Framework.” It cites four defining areas:

• “Knowing who you are and what you believe.”

• “Knowing what you want.”

• “Attracting others and motivating them to follow.”

• “Earning and retaining the privilege to lead.”

The lives of 16 famous leaders illustrate the leadership attributes highlighted in “If–.” Examine and analyze your own leadership skills in terms of each attribute. Think about the leaders who exemplify these traits, about how to deploy these qualities effectively in your life, about chances you’ve missed because you did not exercise one of these character traits and about what you can do to incorporate these foundational values into your future leadership style.

Knowing who you are and what you believe

Self-awareness is crucial to good leadership. Examine the four attributes of self-awareness as they apply to your “personal brand of leadership”:

“Character” – Former US President Ronald Reagan made no secret about his beliefs, values and moral principles. He confidently accepted the doubts of others and helped them learn to trust themselves. Character-based leadership requires that you know the “one thing” you stand for, that your beliefs have a moral basis, and that you align your decisions and actions with your beliefs and values.

“Authenticity” – Theodore Roosevelt’s success as president reflects only one aspect of his “distinct identities” as a “politician, cowboy, author, hunter, naturalist, explorer, bureaucrat, soldier, father, husband and family man.” No matter which role he took on, his words and actions remained genuine. Roosevelt was comfortable with himself and comfortable with everyone else, no matter what the circumstances. He could “walk with kings” but not “lose the common touch.” Gain authenticity by knowing who you are and who you are not. To enhance your credibility, keep your commitments.

• “Integrity” – Michael Collins helped create Ireland as an independent nation in 1922, after more than 700 years of British rule. Born in 1890, he became a nationalist at age 15, was jailed in 1916, founded the Irish Republican Army in 1919 and was assassinated in 1922. The treaty Collins negotiated with the British in January 1922 to create the Irish Free State included political losses that many Irish people found unacceptable, but Collins knew it was the only solution. He died with 4,000 others during the 13-month Irish Civil War between pro- and anti-treaty forces. His leadership demonstrates the value of speaking and acting honestly and having the courage to defend the truth as you see it.

• “Self-efficacy” – Winston Churchill’s long political career swung between “extraordinary triumphs [and] catastrophic disasters.” Through it all, he had the confidence and self-assurance to believe he was “destined for greatness.” Churchill had an internal drive to succeed that was not dependent on the external world…

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