Book Review: The Self-Evolved Leader by Dave McKeown

It’s both embarrassing and frustrating when you discover your well-meaning attempts at heroic leadership have kept you and your team stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. You’re exhausted, they’re frustrated, and everyone’s underperforming. Dave McKeown draws on wisdom and experience to give you the insights to break the cycle, and a plan to actually change the way you lead.” – Michael Bungay Stanier, Bestselling author of The Coaching Habit.

We are in challenging and changing times. The world around us, the systems, global economy, our inner world, the planet emergency and technological advancements are all shifting and changing at great speeds. The old way is falling away and we are being called to examine how we operate in this changing world and to find new ways of being.

My interest in exploring new ways of being covers several aspects of my life, from personal growth and development, spiritual development, creativity, teaching, running an online business through to working in a larger organisation that is experiencing the early stages of change and future evolution.

We know that businesses and entrepreneurs are experiencing a range of challenges in the contemporary world such as economic pressures, downsizing, increasing productivity, keeping up with technological advancements. Alongside this leaders’ need to increase productivity possibly with fewer people and resources, operate within tighter deadlines and retain staff.

The Self-Evolved Leader by Dave McKeown is an easy to follow book with a 15 week guided plan to implement the theories and ideas contained in the book.  The book is aimed at primarily at individuals and it does not matter what your leadership position, industry or geography may be. This book is about changing the individual to lead to change in leadership. Dave quotes Robert Anderson and William Adams “The organization will never perform at a higher level than the consciousness of its leadership”. With this in mind The Self-Evolved Leader provides a model to follow in order to grow and set you apart as a self-evolved leader.

The ideas can be shared with leadership teams and this model can act as a catalyst for change in organisations. Change in large organisations can be difficult particularly if old methods and ways of thinking are embedded. The Self-Evolved Leader explains how new ways of thinking can be adopted and integrated into large organisations. This book signposts more effective ways of operating and how to make a bigger impact. This is an opportunity to get ahead of competitors and be a leader in the fullest sense.

The book is clearly structured to lead you on a journey of development. Firstly to shift the mindset away from heroic leadership towards leading with the intent to develop your team. The second part focuses on how to create a compelling vision to inspire your team, devise implementation strategy and develop key disciplines to sharpen your focus and elevate the team. The next stage is to build an implementation rhythm to get closer to your vision and finally develop key disciplines to keep you and your team on track.

The Self-Evolved Leader is designed as an instruction manual and a guide to getting the best out of yourself, your team and your organisation. You can work at whatever pace suits you but Dave is clear in his recommendation that you follow the book chronologically as he has designed the book to build your skills and knowledge on the journey, each step building on the next.

McKeown outlines five key disciplines within the book:

  • Reclaiming your attention: Protecting your headspace to give you more time to focus on the important things you need to work on rather than getting sucked into the urgent.
  • Facilitating team flow: Managing the inputs to, around, and out from your team in a way that keeps you focused on achieving your current goals and at the same time develops each team member.
  • Supporting high performance: Helping your team discover the root cause of their issues, so they can assess the options in front of them by themselves. Then, encouraging them to devise a plan of action and backing their decision.
  • Having symbiotic conversations: Having conversations that allow all parties the freedom to express their reality without fear of judgment. The focus should be to find the best outcome for the team as a whole and for the individuals within it, and the conversation will conclude with a clear next action that empowers people to opt-in and supports those who choose to opt-out.
  • Building shared accountability: Building the environment that allows your team to set, achieve, and celebrate their collective goals.

The Self-Evolved Leader is a practical book providing guidance and tools to help you get more done in less time, stop managing from crisis to crisis, get better results as a team and increase the value and impact your organisation can bring to your community. The 15 week plan provides a clear structure for developing and implementing the five key disciplines. There are free resources that accompany book such as videos and activities which support your learning and development. We can review and fine tune our actions so that we can move forward towards our goals and to improve as leaders.

We are in exciting and challenging times which can test us. This is a time to develop our creativity and innovation. We can develop and expand who we are individually and as an organisation. I would recommend using this book as part of your journey and development.

Dave McKeown is the CEO of Outfield Leadership and author of The Self-Evolved Leader – Elevate Your Focus and Develop Your People in a World That Refuses to Slow Down.  He has a wealth of experience in connecting individual and team performance to improved business results with a particular focus on fast-growing, complex organisations.  He speaks, coaches and trains on moving from execution to excellence. His goal is to help organisations build a culture of real, authentic but ultimately results-driven leadership. Dave is the host of the podcast ‘Lead Like you Give a Damn’ and writes a weekly column for Inc.Com.

The Self-Evolved Leader is now available to purchase on Amazon and other book outlets.

Note: I received an advance reader’s copy of The Self-Evolved Leader for review.