The Power of Four: Leadership Lessons of Crazy Horse


What makes a good and true leader—brute power and force? The ability to persuade? Simply holding an influential position? Joseph M. Marshall III, the renowned author of the bestselling The Lakota Way, says no. Reminding us that those who hold public office are first and foremost politicians, and that corporate bigwigs serve the bottom line, Marshall presents us with a different idea of leadership, one drawn from his own Lakota Sioux culture. “True leadership,” he informs us, “is...
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The Power of Four: Leadership Lessons of Crazy Horse

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What makes a good and true leader—brute power and force? The ability to persuade? Simply holding an influential position? Joseph M. Marshall III, the renowned author of the bestselling The Lakota Way, says no. Reminding us that those who hold public office are first and foremost politicians, and that corporate bigwigs serve the bottom line, Marshall presents us with a different idea of leadership, one drawn from his own Lakota Sioux culture. “True leadership,” he informs us, “is only possible when character is more important than authority.”
Marshall III draws inspiration from three names that have resonated powerfully throughout history to develop his unique concept of leadership: Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, and, especially Crazy Horse, whose fascinating life Marshall already chronicled in a biography that Publishers Weekly praised as “vivid and haunting.” Crazy Horse did not teach leadership; he simply demonstrated it, effectively and with compassion. Four factors stand out when looking at him as a leader, and they were the basis of his success:

Know yourself. Know your friends. Know the enemy. Lead the way.

The Power of Four shows how and why these maxims—and this Native American philosophy of leadership—is not only applicable to today’s world, but desperately needed: why leadership by example is more powerful than authority; and why the selection of leaders also becomes one way of controlling those very same leaders. Marshall will open readers’ eyes and help them discover how to apply a new set of principles and actions to their own lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Joseph M. Marshall III’s The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History:

“Those wishing to understand Crazy Horse as the Lakota know him won’t find a better account than Marshall’s.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The legendary Lakota leader receives due honor in this searching biography…a fine and necessary work.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Publishers Weekly

Historian Marshall (Keep Going) looks to the life and accomplishments of Lakota warrior Crazy Horse for lessons on leadership in this curious and ultimately disappointing book. Best known for his 1876 defeat of General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse was renowned for being the consummate Lakota leader: resolute in battle, courageous, magnanimous, generous to his people and conscious of the example he set. From the events of Crazy Horse's life, the author abstracts four principles of leadership: "Know Yourself," "Know Your Friends," "Know Your Enemies" and "Take the Lead." While the biographical sections on Crazy Horse are tightly detailed, the personal development advice is fuzzy and unfocused. Marshall insists that anyone can and should become a leader, but his examples are almost all drawn from politics and provide few examples on how to guide families, workplaces and communities, thereby stressing the importance of choosing leaders wisely but neglecting to show readers how to grow into leadership themselves. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Through an analysis of the life and leadership style of the Lakota leader Crazy Horse, Marshall (The Journey of Crazy Horse ), himself a Lakota, discusses the characteristics that Native Americans value in their leaders. Crazy Horse, according to Marshall, demonstrated rather than taught leadership and represented selflessness, morality, experience, honesty, and responsibility. His guiding philosophy of knowing oneself, knowing one's friends, knowing the enemy, and leading the way has relevance today. Marshall illustrates each principle with case studies that include historical battles and present-day office politics. While his message that leadership by example is more powerful than leadership by power is well-developed, only those with an interest in Native American history would read through it. Buy if community interest warrants.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402748813
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 1/6/2009
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 517,214
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Is a Leader? 1

Lakota Leadership 21

The First Principle: Know Yourself 41

The Second Principle: Know Your Friends 71

The Third Principle: Know Your Enemies 95

The Fourth Principle: Take the Lead 119

Afterword: To Be a Leader 151

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Examples from the past-Secrets to the future

    I have done alot of reading of great Native Americans from the past. I have always been touched by the depth of intellegent behavior, resolve and knowledge that they have exihibited for being supposed savages. I have especially done in depth research on Crazy Horse and have come to love him as a man, spiritualist, and as a hardened and wiley battlefield general.

    Now I have come to know him as an example of what true leadership should be. I have read many of Joseph M. Marshall III books and have admired his perspective. He has truly captured the four true facets of leadership as exhibited by Crazy Horse in his life and made it relevant for today's leaders.

    I think this book would make a great addition to a college leadership curriculum and should be a must read for executives in any business.

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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Four Powerful Leadership Teachings

    I love this small book of four powerful leadership teachings. While "Leadership Lessons of Crazy Horse" may seem, initially, as less than appropriate, read on. Yes, Crazy Horse was one of the Indian military leaders that helped defeat Custer at Little Bighorn in 1876. But he was also an "inspirational and effective leader." What is surprising is that his lessons are just as useful today. The author does a masterful job of using Crazy Horse's examples and stories from Native Americans to illustrate his points.

    Lesson One: Know Yourself
    Knowing his strengths and weaknesses helped Crazy Horse be an effective leader. One of his strongest assets was being steady under pressure, and this steadiness developed after years of assuming responsibility for his tribe. What is amazing is that he only lived into his mid-thirties and he was a tribal leader for more than 15 of those years.

    Lesson Two: Know Your Friends
    No leader can lead alone. That requires a trust in the ability of others. Being clear about others' abilities, however, is the key. In his early years, Crazy Horse was a scout for his tribe. He trusted the ability of his fellow scouts, and "those whose character he knew he trusted implicitly." "When people know they can depend on one another, they are powerful."

    Lesson Three: Know Your Enemies
    Crazy Horse taught the importance of knowing, understanding and respecting his enemy. The history of the Lakotas clash with the newly-arrived white men in America may lead to a renewed acceptance of our role in decimating the Native American culture. But his comments provide insight into the enemies we face in the world today.
    The author also comments that enemies such as "poverty, homelessness, loneliness, racism" and others can "defeat us from within and cause the downfall of any society, much like an enemy that may lay siege from the outside." He claims that the "spirit and soul of any society, of any nation, should be more important than economic and military strength."

    Lesson Four: Lead the Way
    Lead by example is the way of a true leader. "Actions are more substantive than words." Now, this is not a surprise to most of us, but it is a lesson too often forgotten. The author's other reminder is that ".It is only from the heart that one can lead by example" as he warns us not to let the complexity of today's society undermine the basic values we know are important.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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