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In this latest treatise, leadership mega-guru Maxwell (The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership) taps a rich vein of corporate angst: the plight of the middle manager, saddled with responsibilities but lacking real power, torn by conflicting tasks and time-management dilemmas, seething with thwarted ambition. As Macbeth shows, it's a predicament fraught with tragic potential, but the staid, platitudinous treatment given it by Maxwell and ghostwriter Charlie Wetzel drains away the drama. They generally counsel acceptance of limitations. Maxwell tells middle managers to work diligently in subordinate positions, support the CEO's vision, find the good in incompetent or malevolent leaders, infiltrate their bosses' emotional lives ("Listen to your leader's heartbeat.... What makes them laugh?... Cry?.... Sing?") and "stand up for your leader whenever you can." They can thus exert an unsung but crucial "influence" over higherups, while themselves practicing a higher, sublimated form of leadership by selflessly nurturing the potential of their own colleagues and underlings. Unfortunately, Maxwell's practical advice boils down to vague truisms ("when you find a problem, provide a solution") or clichés ("If your boss is a golfer, you may want to take up the game"). His bland injunctions to resignation, patience and self-effacement are unobjectionable, but also uninspiring. (Jan. 10)
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John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 13 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and INJOY Stewardship Services.