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Reading List: Spark

Does the Marine Corps do a better job of teaching leadership than elite business schools? Yes, say two former Marines and an Air Force pilot. The Marine approach is scalable to the corporate and small-business realms. As FedEx founder Fred Smith writes in the foreword, “Leadership isn’t about authority. It’s about building credible influence with others.” Smith, a former Marine, spent two tours in Vietnam as a platoon leader and later as a commander.

The book tries too hard to brand its principles: “A spark is all about change.” It’s people who “don’t accept what’s given to them.” It’s a moment of realization, or it’s a “catalyst for personal and organizational change.” You get the idea: familiar concepts cast in perky neo-jargon. Otherwise, the authors offer fresh perspectives on seven key leadership qualities: character, credibility, accountability, intention, service, confidence and consistency.

By Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch and Sean Lynch
January; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $27

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