Book by: Stephen Preskill and Stephen D. Brookfield
Review by: Jay Fuller
University of North Florida
The book, Learning as a Way of Leading: Lessons from the Struggle for Social Justice by Preskill and Brookfield, looks at many different forms of leadership. The book challenges leaders in the community to examine their techniques and styles. The authors attempt to make the reader explore leadership as it “encourages change, even pushes for it, especially when the status quo demeans people or fails to give them opportunities to employ fully their experience and talents.” (p. 4) The book also uses examples of modern leaders, and how they best exemplify these strategies in the realm of social justice, which makes the ideas in the book relatable. This book provides valuable information to advisors, as they continue to develop their professional advising philosophy throughout their career.
In the book, Preskill and Brookfield identified prevailing models of leadership, and also how to learn leadership. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this section is self-reflection on leadership style and ways to foster individualized strategies. Throughout the rest of the book, the authors identified how people can acquire leadership. Each task is coupled with a 20th-century leader who has exemplified that task. The book also highlights the benefits of each task, along with how someone can develop that ability. This part is especially important for advisors, because it breaks down exactly how one can develop these qualities. The authors also related to the reader by sharing stories from their own lives of where they have seen these leadership styles played out.
The book also goes into detail about the potential pitfalls of these practices, as well as what can prevent people from using these concepts in their everyday relationships. This is an important part of the book because it shows that it is not just about how to acquire this knowledge, but also how to use it in real-life settings, how these qualities can work in today’s world, and what the struggles are with using these leadership strategies. This area is important for advisors to know what the pitfalls are with gaining new knowledge on leadership. The authors also discussed how to address the difficulties’ relation to each learning task. There is also a part of the book which examines leadership through followership. This section is also important, because it emphasizes the importance of collaboration, which will enhance the leadership skills gained by all members of the group.
By reading this book, advisors can learn how they can be a better leader in their office and encourage others to develop their leadership “Everything that learning leaders do should be linked in some way to supporting other peoples learning.” (p.6) This book is an easy read that has verifiable examples that advisors can relate to. I would definitely recommend this book for advisors to read and utilize the ideas mentioned in the book in their everyday dealings.
Learning As a Way of Leading: Lessons from the Struggle for Social Justice (2009). Book by Stephen Preskill and Stephen D. Brookfield. Review by Jay Fuller. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 272pp., $45.00. ISBN 978-0-7879-7807-5