My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a review copy of this from the publisher through BookSirens. The title caught my eye, then the cover. As it turns out, Mr. Rennie and I have a coupe of things in common. He was a Navy nuclear officer on a submarine in charge of the Reactor Controls Division and I was a nuclear reactor operator (reactor controls was our division) before becoming an officer myself, another, if different, commonality. Now he was on submarines and while I grew up around subs – maternal grandfather, father, younger brother – and was a sub volunteer the day I enlisted, I saw the light while in hands-on training at a reactor prototype and realized that reactor operators on submarines had less than no life (even the officers got to go home, but the reactor, operating or shut down, always had to have a reactor operator on watch), so I moved up, so to speak, and was assigned to a couple of nuclear aircraft carriers. And Rennie and I are both mechanical engineers. He left the Navy after five years (it’s not for everyone, and a nuke life is harder than most) and parlayed his experience into design and manufacturing; I became an officer in the Civil Engineer Corps, finished a 20 year career and parlayed my experience into facilities construction management and operations. So, the title spoke to me – those words carry a strong meaning – and the cover definitely attracted.
To use a term I learned in the Navy, the BLUF*: This book is not about the Navy. Not even Navy leadership, save for a couple of anecdotes. But it is about leadership, and is a pretty good capsule of many of the traits and methods I’ve adopted over the years. I am always looking to add to the toolbox on that subject, for ways to improve myself, and for good sources to recommend to aspiring leaders. The book is short, and the sections short for the leader who claims to have little time to read – an excuse in my vocabulary because a good leader always makes time to read. There is some overlap and repetition, but that’s because Rennie composed this from “a curated collection of articles [he had] written over the past five years.” The articles are to the point, which is good and I appreciate that. They are conversational, even if there are some statistics peppered throughout – but no citations in case you go looking. There is nothing new here that any good student of leadership hasn’t already seen; any good leader hasn’t tried, implemented. But it is in a compact, easily digested form. There are stories, and they are real, not parable-ized like the Blanchard or Johnson of Lencioni books usually assigned that I am not fond of. What I am fond of is people first, and Rennie nails that. Continue reading