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Book Review: 1% Leadership: Master the Small, Daily Improvements that Set Great Leaders Apart

1% Leadership: Master the Small, Daily Improvements that Set Great Leaders Apart. By Andy Ellis. Hachette Book Group;; 272 Pages; $29.00 

1223-book-review-1%Leadership.jpgThe vast majority of people fail in their New Year’s resolutions. The massive behavior and lifestyle goals they try to change are simply too overwhelming and demanding. If they would only try to make smaller, more realistic changes, their chances of success would be much greater. 

When it comes to corporate America, management often tries to motivate their employees by bringing in an expensive motivational speaker on an annual basis. As to their efficacy, Matt Foley—Chris Farley’s infamous Saturday Night Live character—might be the best example of how effective they are. 

In 1% Leadership: Master the Small, Daily Improvements that Set Great Leaders Apart, author Andy Ellis takes a very different approach. Call it a kinder, gentler method of motivational change. Ellis takes the attitude that real cultural change in an organization is, in fact, a complex endeavor. And firms that try to use a large, cookie-cutter approach will inevitably fail.  

Since it is known that people tend to fail with completing their New Year’s resolutions, what is the solution? The 1 percent approach discussed in this book is about making small, consistent changes instead of changes so huge they are bound to fail. And rather than trying to make that 100 percent change on New Year’s Day, those small improvements, done day after day, week after week, can create real change. Those 1 percent improvements, accumulated over time, can transform an organization and its people.  

The book has 54 chapters, each about two to three pages long, that detail different aspects of personal, team, and organizational leadership. None of the ideas in these 54 chapters are those massive, groundbreaking ideas that are bound to fail after the excitement wears off. Rather they are pragmatic suggestions for real change.  

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Far too many corporate leaders focus on a picture-day approach, where everyone is expected to look good one day a year. Ellis takes an approach to making every day picture day. And that approach, in the long run, will ensure that everyone works at their peak, every day. Real leaders will use such an approach, and those leaders will find a great resource in this valuable and insightful book.  

Reviewer: Ben Rothke, CISSP, CISM, CISA, is a New York City-based senior information security manager with Tapad. He has more than 20 years of industry experience in information systems security and privacy. His areas of expertise are in risk management and mitigation, security and privacy regulatory issues, design and implementation of systems security, encryption, cryptography, and security policy development. He wrote Computer Security—20 Things Every Employee Should Know.