Book Review — The Leadership Gap

Lolly Daskal has written a remarkable and useful book for anyone working to a develop a positive leadership mindset and a practical leadership skillset.

It’s called The Leadership Gap, and as the title implies it is positioned as a business book. Daskal has lots of experience coaching and consulting with leaders of global organizations, so aiming her book at the business market makes sense.

But positioning it as a business book does it — and many potential readers — a disservice. There are countless people who don’t regard themselves as ‘business leaders’, but who can benefit from Daskal’s insights. While reading the book, I found myself thinking over and over that its lessons apply, not only to aspiring business leaders, but to teachers, consultants, coaches, community workers, police, clergy, parents — in fact, to anyone who at some time finds themselves in a position of influence, or care, or support, or guidance to others.

The Leadership Gap offers an straightforward, practical framework to help people identify their leadership (and relationship) strengths and weakness. More importantly, it shows how to work with and leverage those weakness — in Daskal’s terms, the Gaps — into sources of additional, and unexpected, strength.

In just nine no-nonsense chapters, Daskal describes what she calls the seven leadership Archetypes: the Rebel, driven to name and correct what’s wrong, the Explorer, seeking deeper meanings in self, in others, and in the work to be done, the Truth Teller, driven to speak out in service to others, the Hero, acting while others stand by, the Inventor, constantly looking to innovate, the Navigator, the trusted leader who steers people toward achievement, and the Knight, protector and champion of others.

Daskal provides plenty of real-life examples of leaders who embody these Archetypes, and readers will undoubtedly see themselves in their stories.

But the real strength of the book is its presentation not of the Archetypes, but of the Gaps — or what psychologist Carl Jung might have called the shadow of each Archetype. These are the often deeply hidden, but powerful, fears that undermine effective leadership, effective performance, and even effective being.

For the Rebel, that shadow is the Imposter, fueled by self-doubt. For the Explorer, the Exploiter, who manipulates to exert control. For the Truth Teller, it’s the Deceiver who withholds information. For the Hero, the Bystander who sees but does not act. For the Inventor, the Destroyer who chooses cheap and quick over quality. For the Navigator, the Fixer, imposing his solutions on others. And for the Knight, the Mercenary who serves only himself.

Daskal not only identifies these shadows, but offers practical advice about how to leverage the Gaps within us all and transform them into strengths.

The Leadership Gap is a well-written, entertaining, and above all useful book. It may even become a classic. Leaders, prospective leaders, and people from all walks of life who influence others, educate others, support others, or strive to make life better for others will benefit from Daskal’s work.

Reviewed by Tim Hurson