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Posted August 22, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed “I’ve Got Your Back” by Jame C. Galvin, a narrative form story about four young people learning leadership through coaching by an older person, with ample Bible verses sprinkled throughout and prolific use of all those words I mentioned above ... go figure.
Randall, Brad, Valerie, and Lynn are young college graduates in different positions and work environments, with different types of challenges. Some of the challenges involve common leadership issues, while others are more complex. Much like Jesus and his disciples, the group meets regularly to share food, reflect on their lives, and support each other.
Not everyone in the group really wants to be a leader, at least at first. All face different issues and challenges. As the four deal with their various situations, things do not always go as hoped or even as planned. Others do not immediately respond to efforts to build relationships or solve problems. The “messiness” of the workplace is realistically conveyed, with no easy solutions or victories.
Jack, a former Special Forces soldier and missionary, serves as their guide as they explore biblically-based leadership in the workplace, is on his own quest. Jack provides the structure within which they learn about leadership and followership, as they discuss and consider their varied situations and challenges. Jack is also searching for his own next calling. The way in which he resolves his own quest is foregone, but quite satisfying.
Ultimately everyone grows through coaching and reflection on what Christianity has to offer us about leadership and about followership, which are deeply linked.
Galvin spins a reasonably well-told tale, and his dialogue generally rings true, although at times, you can see the bottom line or the lesson coming from a long way off. Each of the five main characters is portrayed in enough detail to give us a feel for them as people and an understanding of the different personality elements which challenge their ability and desire to lead. The action moves at a pace which keeps us engaged, but also allows us to reflect on the leadership path they learn and follow.
I would guess any person reading this book will find something which resonates with them, even if only in retrospect. The people and situations are based on jobs and situations which reflect entry into the world of work. Both those in the midst of their careers and those who are just beginning their careers will find much to consider in these pages.
However, the great strength of “I’ve Got Your Back” is the leadership and followership model unveiled by Jack through the story arc of weekly meetings with the young leaders.
Many leadership models exist and some of those are also based on biblical study and principles. What makes this model different from many others is the tiered approach to evaluating a person’s leadership and their followership qualities. Followership is the primary element, while leadership flows from a good understanding of how to follow well.
ABUSE: First, Jack identifies and explains four type of follower abuse (incompetent, dis-empowering, manipulative, toxic) using the situations faced by each of the young people to help us understand and relate to behaviors which are all too common in our workplaces and institutions.
FOLLOWING: Next, he makes the point that being a good leader means you must first be a good follower. Followers are divided into three types:
Type I Following God (spiritual authority)
Type II Following Inherited Authorities (parental or legal authority)
Type III Following Another Person (with or without authority)
I found this very helpful as it reminds us that all authority is not the same and that all following is not the same.
Ten five competency levels for each type of followership are identified and discussed, ranging from the highest level (Wholehearted Disciple, Activist Citizen, or Courageous Follower) to the lowest level (Wayward Disciple, Lawless Citizen, or Disruptive Follower).
LEADING: Once followership is understood and practiced, Jack next introduces a theology of leadership, which is really a model for our life journeys, including the role of fear, brokenness, and redemption. We return to one of the book’s main themes: Good followership comes before good leadership.
It’s a deceptively simple model to trace, but powerful in the implications for leadership and living.
The Bottom Line … “This kind of leading and dancing is so smooth that it is like dancing. One partner is the leader and the other is the follower, but they glide across the floor as one unit. It's difficult to observe who is leading and who is following."
I went into this book, expecting a usual combination of biblical exhortations and fluffy thinking about loving your neighbor or something similar. Books with an overtly religious tone often do not translate well into the non-religious workplace.
I came away impressed with the value of the follower and leader model outlined in “I’ve Got Your Back” This is a book and a model which I will use in many situations in the future.
To get the full model, you should read and reflect on the book in the context of your own leadership journey. Well worth the time and the cost for anyone who aspires to learn a very useful leadership role at work or in their personal life
Disclaimer: I received a preview copy of this book, but was not required to provide a positive review. The observations above are solely my perception of this book.
Posted July 24, 2013
I found this book to be well-written and engaging. The characters and their stories were realistic and approachable. Even the back section about leadership was easy-to-follow. I think this would be a great book for someone who seems to have lost their way or who is interested in leading a life that is closer to God's plan for him or her.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2013
"I've Got Your Back" (published by Tenth Power Publishing) is James Galvin's attempt at a contemporary leadership parable to teach "biblical principles for leading and following well." The final result for readers are a few good points otherwise woven into an undistinguished book.
Let's start with the good points ...
Galvin understands that you cannot be a good leader without first being a good follower. Thus, much of the book deals with followership and "following well" in order to be able to understand good leadership. In fact, what seems to be the writer's underlying point is that "leadership and followership are two sides of the same coin."
"The essence of leadership is helping people follow well," Galvin writes, a concept that requires a thorough understanding of followership as much as it does of leadership.
The teaching content focuses on Galvin identifying three types of leadership, five levels of followership, and what he describes as the God-created "leader-follower dynamic."
Now for some weak points ...
Galvin's attempt to use a parable format, telling a story of four young adults who are recent graduates of a Christian university, falls flat. Th
e vignettes are too short, too shallow, and a little "cheesy."
The entire book, from the parable to the "concise theology of leadership," has a tone as if Galvin was writing in a hurry; the style is clipped and moves too fast to have a book that offers real depth on followership or leadership.
People don't usually read a book for just a few good ideas; a good book is good reading from cover-to-cover. If that's the quality of book you're looking for, you might want to skip "I've Got Your Back."
I received this book free from Handlebar as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Posted July 4, 2013
I’ve Got Your Back
A Leadership Parable
Biblical Principles for Leading and Following Well.
James C. Galvin ©2012
This book could totally change Christian understanding of leadership and how to follow.
Dr. Galvin presents four levels of leaders and four of followers. He also asserts that only good followers can be good leaders. I’ve Got Your Back begins with a story of four young people, each dealing with a different type of bad leader. They agree together to meet weekly with a mentor, to learn how to deal with follower-abuse. Each one develops unexpected and effective skills.
The last part of the book presents a theological support for Dr. Gavin’s leader and follower theses.
Well-writtten, this engaging book will bring relief to those who believe we must always submit to poor or autocratic leaders. The author clarifies who we must always obey and with whom we can respectfully disagree.
Posted June 20, 2013
booksbysteph says "More Self-Help Book Should Be Like This"
Four members of a Bible study group are having major issues in their jobs. They all have bad bosses and do not know how to handle their situations. They decide to turn to their churches and seek out a mentor that can help them fix their problems.
The group meets Jack, who explains follower abuse and four different ways to respond to it. "You can decide how you will respond to follower abuse." One way is to develop your unique potential. You can be leaders without taking a leadership role. "Everybody has leadership potential. Some work on discovering it and developing themselves. Others let their potential lay dormant."
"If you want to learn how to lead, you must first learn to follow well." And to follow well, you must be REAL: responsible, ethical, authentic and loving. "The essence of leadership is helping others follow well."
"This book has two parts. The first part is a fictional story of four twenty-somethings who are having major problems with bad bosses. Through the story, you will learn Biblical principles for leading and following well. The second part expands on these principles with more insight and references from the Bible. It is intended to help you develop your theology of leadership."
I choose to read the fictional story. I learn better when I see the principles in practice as opposed to laid out textbook style. I think that giving the reader both options is brilliant. Definitely something new for the self-help genre and hopefully something that will catch on.
The stories or parables are relatable situations. You are or have worked for the bosses described in this book. I found myself nodding in agreement and reflecting in my past job experiences. I have high leadership qualities and great communication skills but I do have to slay the dragon of is it good enough?
Until next time, live life one page at a time!