The Self-Evolved Leader by Dave McKweon {Book Review – New Release!}

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“I’ll just deal with it.”

If you are a leader who has ever said this, the Self-Evolved Leader by Dave McKweon is for you. It’s a playbook to uplevel your leadership in today’s corporate climate.

McKweon writes to compel and to address the shift the world is seeing in organizational culture, organizational effectiveness, and what it takes to really make it. As he says:

We’re stuck between two worlds. On one hand we’re barely starting to move away from the old, industrial era way of thinking about leadership and its relentless focus on top-down hierarchy and planning…. On the other hand we haven’t fully developed our thoughts on what comes after the bureaucratic organization. …we’ve seen a shift in the cultural zeitgeist toward a more mindful way of working and leading that emphasizes the individual rather than the employee, but our metamorphosis is incomplete. (Mckweon, 2)

The book and McKweon’s work with top, world-wide organizations makes the point that you can become the type of excellent leader that this new world of business needs — through focus, rewiring of old habits, and good old fashioned hard work.

You just need to know what you’re working toward and how to get there.

What is a Self-Evolved Leader?

Ok, so this is a question that I thought should be more straightforward to answer. After reading, I think I can come up with a summary, but what I really wanted was a 2-line summary of how McKweon defines this leader of the coming age.

Here’s my stab:

A Self-Evolved leader is a leader who knows him/herself well, has a plan in place for creating and maintaining vision, and takes individual interest in his/her team in a way that looses them to solve problems, meet goals and enjoy what they are doing.

{What do you think Dave?? What would you change??}

What he does particularly well is lay out all the elements of this new type of leadership in a way that is easy to read, follow, and reference.

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How is the Self-Evolved Leader Set up?

If leadership is a learned behavior, then it makes sense that there is a path toward that goal. The Self-Evolved Leader is set up, intentionally, as a playbook.

Each chapter presents an element of the self-evolved leader, the steps to get there, and strategies for the common trouble that could arise within that element.

The teaching content is supported by real-life, interesting stories from the leaders Dave has worked with in his career. Each chapter ends with supportive, summary sections “what to remember” and “what to try” that provide an at-a-glance for the busy leader. {Cuz who isn’t!}

The book is set up well and easy to follow.

Who is Self-Evolved Leader For?

Every leader in this era could benefit from the construct and wisdom that McKweon provides. Yet, as I read, several exceptional leaders came to my mind who already are more naturally wired to lead as he suggests. They are leaders who are not inclined to be a producer of “learned helplessness.”

For others, with high-achieving, high-doing personalities, this book is a playbook to live by.

And that’s a lot of us.

Many leaders like this have become leaders because they have been good at their jobs all along by pushing hard, taking on more, and getting to the bottom of problems. Now, they are that same hard-charging person, and instead of freeing their team to do the work, they take on the problems and not only over-tax themselves but, as McKweon points out, begin to demotivate their team as well.

As he speaks to these “I’ll just do it myself” leaders, he provides well-thought out processes and steps for undoing old habits and creating new, more effective ones.

He’s not afraid to ask leaders to do the hard things, knowing that these new habits formed in practice will lead to future, more excellent success.

Why should I pick the Self-Evolved Leader over another business book?

This is the book someone needed to put in my hands as a young leader. I had the passion and drive, but I really needed a playbook. A shortcut to becoming a leader who cares and gets it done.

It’s a worthy read over others because there is nothing theoretical or esoteric about it. It provides a practical movement in the forward direction—one that focuses on people while also providing effective strategies for getting the job done.

It was also refreshing to see McKweon emphasize the impact leaders have on their organization through their own levels of self-awareness and their humanity toward their team. These are foundational elements of today’s leader, and he unpacks them extremely well.


A Couple More Thoughts on the Self-Evolved Leader

As is true of any read, here are a couple points that could use clarity or adjustment, from my perspective.

First, as a strengths-oriented coach and consultant, I want to see even more emphasis on the application of this leadership construct across different strengths and lens of the world.

The way one leader approaches “symbiotic conversations” {Chapter 9}, for example, will feel and look different than another, depending on the strengths they each bring to that conversation and employee. Likewise, {and this is implied in the preparation for the conversation though not outrightly stated} each conversation will be different depending on the strengths of the employee as well.

Second, I have been mulling over the name “self-evolved leader” for some time now. And I just can’t get myself to love it. And I guess I don’t really understand the term.

From my perspective, effective, inspiring leadership is everything but self-focused. There is certainly self-discipline involved, and self-improvement measures are foundational, but the focus is not on self, rather on others.

So, Dave, you’ll have to enlighten me on that point. 🙂

The Self-Evolved Leader is an excellent book that the high-achieving leader needs to not only read but keep near him/herself as a playbook for staying focused on the vision and the people, to get the job done in a way that inspires others to follow.

Feature title image taken from Porchlight

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