The Tortoise Usually Wins

Brian Harris, Paternoster (2013)

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I had never thought the topic of leadership was relevant to me, and would probably never have chosen to read a book about it. And yet, I suspect the situation described by Brian Harris applies to many of us. He writes this book for reluctant leaders who find themselves in the position, unsure how they got there and whether they are able to fulfill the role, but willing to give it a try. It’s a book about the skills of leadership, not about being a natural born leader.

The eleven chapters in the book look at Church leadership from all angles – the theory, the theology, the ethics, as well as more practical chapters about how to create vision, work as a team, manage time and resolve conflict. All of the chapters are written in a clear and approachable style that held my attention. I liked the way that, alongside the theory, there are opportunities for self-analysis and reflection, so that the reader is encouraged to relate the theory to their own situation.  Each chapter ends with a case study, in which an experienced leader is invited to relate the content of the chapter to their own experience.

Brian Harris suggests that this is not a book to rush, and I think his suggestion of taking a chapter at a time, and then allowing opportunity for reflection on the relevance to one’s own context, would enable to reader to get the most out of this book.

Although it is written for Christian leaders, with references and examples drawn from biblical leaders, I also found it useful to apply to the secular context. It has enhanced my understanding and encouraged me to think through my role in leadership, and I would recommend this book to others who find themselves in this position.

Reviewed by Ruth Logan