Emily Kittle Morrison presents a concise, yet comprehensive resource on the subject of leading a volunteer organization in her book Leadership Skills: Developing Volunteers for Organizational Success (Fisher Books, 1994). Morrison provides helpful instructions, practical tips, and valuable resources on fifteen different foci of volunteer leadership from time management and listening to conflict management and board skills. The book, more of a resource manual with pithy points and assessment tools, has an easy to read and approachable layout that will serve well its purpose. The book easily lends itself to a field resource guide and would likely work as a supplement to many areas of leadership and volunteer training. Morrison covers quite a bit of ground in Leadership Skills making this book a valuable asset for anyone associated with a volunteer organization.
Despite it user-friendly layout and concise style, the book has a few drawbacks. First, though enlightening and helpful for specific situations of all sorts in volunteer organizations, the book is dry. A few marginal quotes and quirky statements bring some life to the book, but the lack of any sort of anecdote or real-world example make this book solely a reference guide and not some sort of self-enrichment read. A second, and final, obstacle for the book stems from a good deal of repetition. Chapter 5 presents a wealth of important tips on leadership including a thorough discussion of delegating. Yet in Chapter 10 as Morrison points out key components of time management, she reiterates much of the same material on delegation. A similar incidence occurs within her discussion on problem-solving in chapter 9 only to resurface once more, three chapters later, in her discussion on conflict management. If used as a reference guide, these repetitions make more sense.
Even with these difficulties, Morrison still delivers a fresh and useful resource on volunteerism and its many facets. Again, it is worth reiterating that Morrison puts together an incredibly comprehensive work with Leadership Skills. An extensive “Suggested Readings” section at the end of the book cites 123 separate works, arranged under a variety of topics, for the reader to pursue for continuing education. Moreover, three specific elements of this work make it a worthwhile addition to any library. First, Morrison provides a number of tools, group exercises, and individual activities that can beneficial insight on a variety of topics from leading group meetings to self-discovery to evaluating success. A second notable characteristic of Morrison’s book is chapter 13 on self-assessment and group assessment. This chapter presents both assessment tools and helpful information on how to effectively evaluate success and appraise an organization’s, as well as an individual’s, performance.
The third, and most refreshing, characteristic of Morrison’s work emanates from her selfless view of leadership. In a world where the greedy and self-serving claim leadership, Morrison triumphs from the introductory page of her book “a leader’s main function is to show appreciation” (ix). These notions of recognizing, nurturing, and rewarding as fundamental to leadership provide a welcome release from today’s manipulative leaders who no longer ‘lead [people] beside still waters” (Ps 23:2). This view of leadership along with its many other notable qualities makes Leadership Skills a wise investment for anyone with a library on leadership.
Reviewed by guest blogger Sammy Frame
Associate Pastor, Powhatan Community Church
Date posted: Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 12:05 am | Under category: books, leadership
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