Author Garry Wills has a keen sense of the importance of followers to leadership. In the introduction to the book he states plainly “The leader most needs followers”. He goes on to explain that in reality followers “have a say” in what they are led toward! The theme of Certain Trumpets is that a successful leader doesn’t just trumpet or sound their own certain message, but instead they sound a specific call to others capable of following.
He believes that leaders need to understand their followers more than followers need to understand them! What is Garry Wills basic definition of a leader? “One who mobilizes others toward a goal shared by the leader and followers”. In other words, coercion of others is not leadership, it is just power.
With this introduction in mind the rest of the book consists of Wills discussion of individuals who have possessed leadership in various ways. The author believes that different leaders should be considered notable because of their own goals rather than their personalities, which is the most common perspective. As a result of this perspective, Wills does not treat leadership as a single thing, but mentions sixteen various kinds of leadership within the book. He also goes on to discuss various subdivisions within the sixteen kind’s. Certain Trumpets attempts to define these distinctive types of leadership by using examples that range from Franklin Roosevelt (Electoral Leadership) to Dorothy Day (Saintly Leadership). To make this exploration interesting, and to provoke thought, he also provides an antitype character in contrast to each distinctive type of leader presented. It is Wills hope to exemplify the individual’s characteristics by providing this contrast. Wills doesn’t think we lack leaders today, but sufficient followers. He refers to this as the “real problem with leadership”. Certain Trumpets is easy to read, stimulating and creative enough to look at leadership from a different lens.
Certain Trumpets – The Call of Leaders
Simon & Schuster, 1994 (336 pages in paperback)
Author Garry Wills
weLEAD rating recommended
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