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View From the Top - Book Review

9781118901106View From the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World

by D. Michael Lindsay

This is more than a book about leadership.  It is a realistic glimpse inside the multifaceted and complex world of being a leader—highlighting the characteristics, insights and experiences of noteworthy individuals that have lead institutions that have made a significant impact upon the world.

Aspiring leaders, current leaders and former leaders will all enjoy and benefit from reading View from the Top.  It offers a wealth of knowledge gleaned from the personal testimonies and experiences of some of the most powerful and revered leaders of the past twenty years.  This book will both affirm and confirm the experiences of readers who have “felt the same way” or have experienced similar things in their lives of leadership, and it will serve to guide, challenge and assist any teachable leader wanting to better themselves for the sake of their institution and for the common good.

The engaging leadership examples and illustrations provided throughout the book were drawn from interviews of hundreds of successful leaders who were, at one time or another, leading an institution.  In View from the Top, Lindsay states, “Institutions, not individuals, wield the real, world-changing power.”  The truth of this statement is not lost on the fact that individuals lead institutions and at times it is difficult to distinguish between the individual leader and the institution they are leading. 

Later in the book Lindsay says, “Extraordinary leaders do more than verbalize, they personify.” It is undeniably evident in the many examples given by Lindsay that the influence and success of an institution is inextricably tied to the personal and professional choices and actions of its leader.  Leadership is an institutional undertaking that is realized at a very personal level.

This book was a delight to read.  Michael Lindsay writes in a conversational style that is nuanced with academic references to his unprecedented sociological study that makes the writing interesting, realistic, applicable and engaging.  He gives credence to the various leadership traits observed in others as he compares and contrasts them to his own personal leadership context in the realm of Christian Higher Education.

My only complaint about this book is that it ended too quickly.  There is much to be gleaned from the lives of the 550 leaders that Michael Lindsay has interviewed over the past ten years.  I hope that this book is the first of many that Dr. Lindsay will distill from the Platinum Study and share with the world.


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