So a book I started well over a year ago and have read excerpts and sections off, but never really officially finished until this week was The Art of Virtue-Based Transformational Leadership by Mark McCloskey and Jim Louwsma. It’s about 140 pages and a great primer on a really helpful leadership framework.
I had been looking forward to this book for quite a long time because Mark McCloskey was a significant mentor in my life as the head of the Transformational Leadership MA program I went through at Bethel Seminary a decade or so ago. This book essentially captures the intro class to that program with a bit more refinement in some of the ideas and in the packaging. Louwsma has been a significant collaborative partner with McCloskey. I remember him visiting and presenting in some classes during that time and was impressed by his insights and perspectives.
The book gives an overview to what they call the 4-R leadership framework, which starts with Relationships and works its way out to Roles, Responsibilities, and then ultimately Results. I’ve found it to be the most comprehensive and helpful framework for leadership development that I’ve used, but it’s also the dominant framework I’ve been exposed to over the years. McCloskey was former staff in my ministry organization and helped implement this framework as the leadership framework for the whole organization. So I’ve been immersed in this framework both academically and in practice over the past 20 years.
As an aside – if you are Cru Staff, you should own and read this book to have more foundation for the framework that is central to organizational evaluation and development.
The authors weave the theory of the model with the narrative and example of Nehemiah from the Old Testament book of the same name, but one of the nice touches is they include a diverse number of 2-3 page biographical summaries on various transformational leaders in history. I especially liked that they extended behind typical examples, but took a global approach in highlighting leaders who have exhibited transformational leadership.
It’s really not an overwhelming read as it’s less than 150 pages, but you get a lot in those pages. For $100 you can find the MBA / ultra-academic version of this book. But now that this is available as a Kindle e-book I can’t recommend it enough if you want to explore a practical, yet research-based framework to help build and shape a leadership culture. Even if it’s just for your own development, it will help you do an audit on just about every area of your leadership from character to practices to skills.