Reagan on Leadership by James M Strock – Book Review

Posted on

Title and Author: Reagan on Leadership by James M. Strock

Synopsis of Content:

Subtitled Executive Lessons from the Great Communicator Strock’s 1998 book on what one can learn about leadership from President Reagan has been released in a new Reagan Centennial Edition on the former President’s 100th birthday.

First what this is not – this is not a book defending Reagan’s policies and politics. So no matter where you come down on those subjects this book has a lot to offer. I must confess that I was and remain a fan of Ronald Reagan and it does appear that Strock is too. However no matter what you thought of his politics or his policies there is no denying that he was an adept leader.

In the Introduction to this new issue Strock tells the reader that an increasing number of historians are acknowledging Reagan’s leadership talents. James MacGregor Burns, a well known presidential historian disagrees profoundly in Strock’s words with Reagan’s policies but concludes that Reagan and FDR stand out as the two most consequential presidents of the 20th century. Another historian, the late John Patrick Diggins said that Reagan belonged with Lincoln among the three or four greatest presidents.

In Part One of the book Strock helps us understand Reagan’s effectiveness as a leader through his compelling vision, his decisiveness, his adeptness at negotiation and his ability to learn from mistakes and move on.

In Part Two he reveals how effective Reagan was as a manager, putting first things first, limiting his own work to what his subordinates could not do and making meetings useful.

In Part Three he discusses how effective Reagan was as a communicator, something nearly all of his harshest critics readily admitted then and now.

In Part Four we learn how disciplined Reagan was and how he used his leadership skills as a way of life.

In the foreword Tom Peters does not exaggerate when he describes Strock’s analysis of Reagan’s leadership skills as brilliant. As you read the book you will conclude the same. Strock does a masterful job of identifying Reagan’s strengths and using many illustrations of how he outwitted his domestic and foreign foes to preside over one of the most successful presidencies ever in terms of achieving what he set out to do.

If there is a criticism of the book is its tendency to minimize Reagan’s faults and failures. However one can forgive this in light of all there is to learn from his successes. At 234 pages this is a concise review of what made Reagan effective and everyone can learn a great deal from it.

Readability/Writing Quality:

As with all of Strock’s work this is very readable. Crisply written and well organized the reader is never lost.

Notes on Author:

James Strock is an authority and prolific author on leadership. He also wrote Serve to Lead and Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership. He has had a career in business and in high levels of government including being the first Secretary of Environmental Protection for California and chief enforcement officer for the EPA.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

1. Vision is the indispensable key to leadership of any enterprise.

2. By aligning words and deeds, decisive actions add predictability and certainty to an enterprise.

3. Every organization and very person will make mistakes. The key is to view those mistakes as opportunities to learn.

Publication Information:

Reagan on Leadership – Executive Lessons from the Great Communicator by James M. Strock. Copyright by James M. Strock, 1998 and 2011. Published by Serve to Lead Press.

Rating for this Book

Over all Rating for Book: Excellent

Writing Style: Easy to read.

Usefulness: Very useful to anyone serious about improving their leadership skills.

Disclosure: the author of this book review has no relationship or financial arrangement with the author or the publisher of this book. Some publishers and authors do provide a copy of the book for reviewers to read.