Book Review – LEAD NOW!: A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders (2nd ed.)
Updated: Aug 24
“Leadership is a future-oriented ability to establish direction, align people, and help others to work together. We believe a leader is one who develops a vision of the future, prepares the strategies for achieving it, and supports the execution of that vision” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 6).
“Our motivation in developing the LEAD NOW! concept was to produce a model that is practical, useful, easy to teach, easy to understand, and that smacks of common sense. The LEAD NOW! Leadership Development Model gives leaders at all levels a simple and comprehensive framework for the crit- ical areas of leading others” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 3).
The LEAD NOW! model is “built on the assumption that leaders must achieve aligned and positive results from four perspectives: 1) their people, 2) their business, 3) their marketplace (external), and 4) their organization (internal)” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 4).
It’s worth mentioning that I do NOT recommend the first edition of the LEAD NOW! book. The second edition is a substantial and significant update, both in its breadth and depth. As a matter of fact, if you were to compare the two editions, the second edition is a fresh, different, and much improved book. Whereas the first edition reads like a generic description of ideas for each competency, the second edition provides much more comprehensive, tangible, practical, and actionable steps to take.
Here’s an example of the “Customer Focus” competency in the first edition of LEAD NOW!:
32. When you’ve made the sale, stop talking.
36. Remember: customers complain — it’s their job.
As you can see, #32 and #36 seem incomplete, inappropriate, or just plain wrong! #32 “When you’ve made the sale, stop talking” can come across as a very transactional tip that can be interpreted as suggesting that after you’ve landed the customer, you can stop talking and interacting with them — which is not, I would assume, what the authors intended. And #36 “Remember: customers complain — it’s their job” is just awful. Customers do not complain. Some customers may complain, while others may, in fact, be very strong and loyal supporters and brand ambassadors of your company, products, and/or services. I’m astounded that the authors would include this in the first edition, which they recognized and deleted from the second edition.
Here’s an example of the “Customer Focus” competency in the second edition of LEAD NOW!:
22. Treat customer complaints as a gift. What can you learn from them?
23. Train and empower your team to promptly resolve or escalate customer problems, concerns, or frustrations.
It’s very evident that a lot of work have been put into improving the second edition.
In the Dependability competency, there was a 35.48% increase in the number of Coaching Tips from the first to the second edition (from 31 to 42).
In the Personal Integrity competency, there was a 52% increase in the number of Coaching Tips from the first to the second edition (from 25 to 38).
In the Problem Solving competency, there was a 40% increase in the number of Coaching Tips from the first to the second edition (from 25 to 35).
In the Change Management competency, there was a 26.32% increase in the number of Coaching Tips from the first to the second edition (from 38 to 48).
In the Innovation competency, there was a 73.91% increase in the number of Coaching Tips from the first to the second edition (from 23 to 40).
In the Inspiring Commitment competency, there was a 64.29% increase in the number of Coaching Tips from the first to the second edition (from 28 to 46).
In the Organizational Savvy competency, there was a 66.67% increase in the number of Coaching Tips from the first to the second edition (from 24 to 40).
Ok, now that I got that out of the way, let’s dive into the second edition!
I want to highlight two competencies [delegating and ego management] and point out some of the features unique to the LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.) book. Refreshingly different from the first edition, the second edition of LEAD NOW! features 5 subsections for each dimension or competency:
What it looks like
What it is not
What it looks like when it is overused
The second edition also provides subheadings, breaking down the long lists of “coaching tips” into smaller groups. For instance, for the delegating competency, under “coaching tips,” there are these headings: Preparing to Delegate, Delegating Effectively, Managing Follow-Through in Delegation, Overcoming Challenges to Delegation.
Here’s what the delegating competency chapter looks like in LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.).
What Is Delegating? Delegating is assigning a task, communicating its objective and timeline, setting expectations, and providing resources and support to complete it. Delegating is a demonstration of trust in your people. It communicates that you believe that both of you can do more. It helps them grow and develop while freeing your time to address your pressing priorities. Successful delegation requires a conscious choice to share the workload and let others learn and prove themselves. This can be career enhancing for you and your people.
What it looks like:
Explaining and confirming why the task is to be completed
Allowing some autonomy in how the task is accomplished
Removing barriers for the individual to be successful
Using a structure of accountability to follow up on the task
What it is not:
Believing your way is the only way to do it
Giving a task without clear directions and outcomes
Assigning only work that you do not want to do
Giving a task to benefit only you, and not the other person
What it looks like when it is overused:
Delegating tasks to those outside of your team
Assigning core strategic assignments to others that you should own
Adding unnecessary barriers to test others
Assigning delegated tasks without regard for existing workload
One of the things that helps the LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.) book stand out in the coaching & development guide book category is the business results and people results sections.
“The most important aspect of being a leader is achieving results—business results and people results. Business results are all about financial, budgetary, and operational success; people results are about team dynamics, workforce engagement, the overall employee experience, career development, and feeling connected with each other. Too often, we focus only on business results; our [Stewart Leadership] research has found that a great leader needs to be able to achieve both kinds of results—the IQ-driven side of creating purpose and delivering excellence, and the EQ-driven side of developing self and others and leading change” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 17).
“Business results means being able to achieve operational success. This is the language of the boss; the leader needs to be able to speak that language well to build the relationship with the boss for success” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 17).
“People results means being able to achieve success within your team engagement development. This is the language of your direct reports; they are most interested in engagement, development, and interaction with others on the team” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 17).
When you delegate, you can drive better business and people performance. Here are some of the results you can achieve.
Business results (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 92):
Enabling focus on your strategic priorities
On-time delivery of key assignments
Better support of operational and strategic goals
Improved time management and productivity
People results (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 93):
Professional development of your team
Improved alignment of your team with corporate goals
Leveraging your team’s strengths
Fostering engagement and mutual trust with your team
I LOVE the business results and people results sections so much in the LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.) book!
Preparing to Delegate
#2 Match the capabilities, personality traits, relationship skills, thinking styles, and strengths and weaknesses of your employees to the tasks you’ll assign.
#6 Delegate to give your people purpose, make them feel valued, needed, and part of the group, and to establish an environment where everyone can grow and stretch.
#9 Clearly communicate expectations for responsibility and accountability. Ask questions to ensure they understand the project and goals.
#15 Breathe new life into an existing project by delegating, allowing for new inspiration, outside perspective, brain-storming, problem solving, and creativity.
Managing Follow-Through in Delegation
#16 Consider the readiness and willingness of each delegate to determine the amount of support and direction you’ll provide. Have an open dialogue for maximum understanding and agreement.
Overcoming Challenges to Delegation
#23 Avoid the mindsets that you can do it better yourself, you can do it faster alone, you don’t have time to teach others, or you want to make sure that you get the credit. If you don’t delegate, you’re not an effective manager.
At the end of each competency (LEAD NOW! calls it “Dimension”) is a self-assessment with key questions to help you reflect on your current leadership skills and attitudes. There’s also an “Action-Planning Notes” section that asks “What three things in this section will help you be a better leader?”, “What would change if you started or continued doing these three things?”, and “How can you implement these changes?”
Ego Management is one competency I’ve not seen in the other coaching guides. Here’s what the ego management competency chapter looks like in LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.).
What Is Ego Management? Ego management is having a balanced level of confidence in your own skills, tools, judgment, and experience. A strong, confident ego is needed to handle the challenges of life. Ego management combines humility and modesty with strong inner conviction and determination. Overinflated egos can hamper good decision making by shutting out the ideas of others, masking personal development needs, and generating organizational dysfunctions. And underinflated egos can deny the value you can and should add to your team and organization. The challenge is to manage your ego so it doesn’t manage you!
What it looks like:
Giving credit where it is due
Leading the applause for your people
Pursuing what is best for the team
Allowing the team freedom in how they achieve the result
What it is not:
Demeaning or belittling others
Allowing emotions and desire for power or control to determine actions
Making sure everyone knows how important the leader is
Wanting others to conform to the leader on all issues
What it looks like when it is overused:
Believing that in the end, you are always the reason for the team’s success
Never questioning or backing down from your own optimism
Allowing louder or more dominant voices to always prevail
Consistently doubting and not voicing your own ideas
When you manage your ego, you can drive better business and people performance. Here are some of the results you can achieve.
Fostering a culture of collaboration and new ideas
Promoting good team decision making
Improving problem solving
Optimizing team engagement and productivity
Allowing people the freedom to take risks
Building personal resilience
Professional development of leaders and staff
Fostering trusting relationships
Managing Your Ego
#2 Avoid being defensive when you learn of areas where you need to improve. Do you justify or rationalize? Or do you try to understand and apply the feedback to make needed changes?
#9 Let go of the idea that you need to be the smartest person in the room. Ask a trusted associate if you appear to have a need to demonstrate to others that you’re more intelligent than they are. Be aware and resist the human tendency to add your two cents to each discussion.
Benefits of a Healthy Ego
#25 Be adaptable to change. Ego-driven people want the world to conform to them. Well-managed egos adapt to new rules, norms, and requirements.
Steps to a Healthy Ego
#30 Think what is best for the company, the customer, and the team—not just for yourself.
#31 Look back over your successes. Honestly consider how the help you received from others contributed to your achievements.
#37 Recognize that even if you’re right, you may not be successful without other people’s involvement and ideas.
Here’s how Stewart Leadership’s LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.) book compares to several other coaching guides:
Korn & Ferry – FYI For Your Improvement (5th edition) features 67 Competencies, 19 Career Stallers and Stoppers, and 7 Global Focus Areas.
Korn & Ferry – FYI For Your Improvement (6th edition) features 38 Competencies, 10 Career Stallers and Stoppers.
Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) – Compass: Your Guide for Leadership Development and Coaching contains 52 Competencies and 5 Career Derailers.
MDA Leadership Consulting – Awaken, Align, Accelerate: A Guide to Great Leadership features 16 Competencies.
Stewart Leadership – LEAD NOW! A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders (2nd ed.) features 21 Competencies.
The LEAD NOW! book (and model) has a manageable number of competencies (21), similar to MDA Leadership Consulting’s Awaken, Align, Accelerate’s 16 Competencies.
There are some benefits to having lots of competencies (e.g., Korn & Ferry’s FYI’s 38 Competencies and CCL’s Compass’ 52 Competencies). However, to the readers/leaders, that may just be overkill. Indeed, too many competency choices may end up overwhelming the audience (i.e., leaders) this book aims to help.
That said, I was surprised and disappointed to not find a Conflict Management competency/dimension and a Confronting Direct Reports/Problem Employees competency/dimension in the LEAD NOW! book and model. Ask any first-time manager and they will tell you that, among the challenges they face in their new role, the ability to deal with and resolve conflicts and the ability to confront a problem employee rank at the very top of their list.
LEAD NOW! Model Description – 21 Leadership Dimensions
Quadrant I: Create Purpose (Externally Focused Business Results) As a leader, you are responsible for defining the group’s vision and strategy. Creating purpose identifies what the organization stands for, what it is going to do, and how it is positioned in the marketplace. This involves studying the competition, thoroughly knowing the customer, analyzing industry trends, setting strategy, and communicating effectively to others.
1: Customer Focus 2: Effective Communication 3: Presentation Skills 4: Strategic Thinking
Quadrant II: Deliver Excellence (Internally Focused Business Results) As a leader, you are responsible for delivering operational excellence—translating the strategy into day-to-day execution for the organization. This involves clear decision making, the ability to build consistent and measurable processes, continuous improvement, and behaving with integrity.
5: Decision Making 6: Delegating 7: Dependability 8: Focusing on Results 9: Personal Integrity 10: Problem Solving
Quadrant III: Develop Self & Others (Internally Focused People Results) As a leader, you must value learning for yourself and for others. This involves seeking personal improvement opportunities, building and managing team dynamics, honing technical expertise, managing one’s time, coaching and developing others, and managing one’s ego.
11: Coaching 12: Ego Management 13: Listening 14: Personal Development 15: Team Building 16: Time Management 17: Valuing Others
Quadrant IV: Lead Change (Externally Focused People Results) As a leader, you are responsible for creating and championing change efforts that will benefit the organization. This involves influencing key decision makers, sponsoring change projects, empowering stakeholders, encouraging innovation, managing resistance, and making change stick.
18: Change Management 19: Innovation 20: Inspiring Commitment 21: Organizational Savvy
About the LEAD NOW! Leadership Development Model The LEAD NOW! Leadership Development Model was created to provide leaders with a simple and comprehensive framework for the critical areas of leading others. It is a results-oriented model geared toward achieving results in both business and people, focusing on reaching excellence within the organization, and understanding the competitive marketplace and customer needs outside the organization.
The LEAD NOW! Model is based on over 45 years of research and professional consulting and coaching experience. It has its roots in over eight thousand 360-degree assessments measuring leadership effectiveness at all levels of organizations and across dozens of industries, nonprofits, and government organizations. It also draws from thousands of interviews with leaders to distill what great leadership is all about.
The Four Critical Relationships
“At work, leaders have four critical relationships they must develop and within which they must communicate appropriately: with the boss, direct reports, peers, and customers. Each relationship is essential and deserves focused attention, but each relationship values and needs different things to be productive” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 25).
Do’s and Don’ts with Boss (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 27):
Do’s and Don’ts with Direct Reports (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 28):
Do’s and Don’ts with Peers (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 29):
Do’s and Don’ts with Customers (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 30):
How does it work? The LEAD NOW! Model is built on the understanding that effective leaders must achieve aligned and positive results from four perspectives: 1) their people, 2) their business, 3) their marketplace, and 4) their organization. These points of view form lines, which intersect to define the four areas or quadrants of great leadership: Create Purpose, Deliver Excellence, Develop Self & Others, and Lead Change. Each of these four quadrants is supported by several key Leadership Dimensions and provides the basis for in-depth leadership development action planning.
How will it help a leader? Leadership is critical to an organization’s performance and leaders become better through focused and supported development. The LEAD NOW! Leadership Development Model provides the foundation for any personalized leadership development effort, whether it is a coaching engagement, workshop, or larger leadership program. Using the LEAD NOW! model will help you identify and improve the behaviors needed to increase your success of leading others and achieving desired organizational results.
The 21 Leadership Dimensions within the quadrants are a buffet of different skills or competencies that a leader can then choose from to help develop themselves as a leader. The ultimate goal of the LEAD NOW! Model is to develop leadership muscle in all four of these quadrants—and especially in the people-focused side—to enable leaders to not only get a seat at the leadership table, but also remain there.
“It is unrealistic to expect large, major leaps of progress overnight. The truth is that it takes persistent, patient effort over time to see and experience gains in one’s ability to lead—one fleck at a time” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 2).
“LEAD NOW! was created to help leaders develop the tools to identify and improve their ability to lead and coach others at a moment’s notice. This book is filled with hundreds of small golden flecks—called tips—divided across twenty-one Leadership Dimensions that are designed to help any leader in any field grow in their ability to lead more effectively—one “fleck” at a time” (Stewart & Stewart, 2021, p. 2).
Summary: I was not expecting to be so impressed with LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.). In fact, I was anticipating an unremarkable coaching & development guide. But I was wrong! Despite missing two important competencies—a Conflict Management competency and a Confronting Direct Reports/Problem Employees competency—LEAD NOW!: A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders (2nd ed.) is OUTSTANDING! However, you may not be able to tell from a quick glance at its exterior. This is because, compared to its coaching guide counterparts, the LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.) book is half the physical size of its competition (e.g., the FYI and Compass coaching guides) and contains far fewer competencies. Yet, it packs a big punch in a deceptively small package and delivers much more value (e.g., the helpful business & people results sections and hundreds of outstanding & practical coaching tips) at a fraction of the cost of its rivals! Indeed, it was the scores of actionable coaching tips or “flecks of gold” in LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.), with its clearly labeled subheadings to help you locate what you’re looking for, that won me over! Stellar job and well done, Stewart Leadership! LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.) has moved to the top of my “Highly Recommended Coaching & Development Guide Books List.” If you are a leader, aspiring to become a leader, or developing a future leader, you must have LEAD NOW! (2nd ed.) on your bookshelf and within arm’s reach!
Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D. Organizational & Leadership Development Leader
Barnfield, H. C., & Lombardo, M. M. (2014). FYI: For Your Improvement – Competencies Development Guide (6th ed.). Korn Ferry.
Lombardo, M. M., & Eichinger, R. W. (2009). FYI: For Your Improvement – A Guide for Development and Coaching (5th ed.). Korn Ferry.
Nguyen, S. (2017, Dec 1). Book Review: Awaken, Align, Accelerate By Mda Leadership. https://workplacepsychology.net/2017/12/01/book-review-awaken-align-accelerate-by-mda-leadership/
Nguyen, S. (2019, Sept 9). Book Review – Compass: Your Guide For Leadership Development And Coaching. https://workplacepsychology.net/2019/09/09/book-review-compass-your-guide-for-leadership-development-and-coaching/
Scisco, P, Biech, E, & Hallenbeck, G. (2017). Compass: Your Guide for Leadership Development and Coaching. Center for Creative Leadership.
Stewart, J. P., & Stewart, D. J. (2021). LEAD NOW!: A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders (2nd ed.). Page Two Press.
Disclosure: I purchased LEAD NOW!: A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders (2nd ed.) on my own.