Sunday 3 March 2013

Deep Leadership

Finished March 3
Deep Leadership: essential insights from high-risk environments by Dr. Joe MacInnis

I'm always interested in ways to improve my leadership skills, and that is what this book is all about. MacInnis is a medical doctor and scientist who has specialized in undersea situations. He has done numerous dives, been in deep water submarines and worked in arctic sea exploration. He has spent time writing policy, working with government and doing research, working with a variety of specialists including astronauts. He speaks on leadership and has been awarded the Order of Canada.
This book takes his years of research into leadership and draws it all together. While the experiences he draws from involve high-risk situations, the qualities he notes can be applied to many leadership circumstances.
The traits he believes are important to good leadership are given in short chapters, with an example (or more) in action, and reflections on that quality. They are: cool competence; powerful presentations; physical robustness; hot-zone humour; mental resilience; strategic imagination; high-empathy communication; blood trust; fierce ingenuity; team genius; resolute courage; and warrior's honour. As he says, this isn't a definitive list, it's just his list, and he encourages the reader to create their own. One comment in his summary stood out for me though, "I'm not sure that leadership is driven primarily by intelligence. I believe it's driven mostly by empathy and enthusiasm. Empathy for the team, the task, and the technology, and a sustained enthusiasm for whatever it takes to get the job done."
As he talks about working towards better leadership skills, he emphasizes the following: making the commitment [to improving skills]; commanding the language [of good writing]; building a library [of leadership insights]; finding mentors [throughout your career]; seeking opportunities [for leadership]; and transforming your character [through learning and evolution].
Leadership is not easy to define, and has many different forms, but it is never something you finish achieving. It is always a work in progress.
This book will definitely become part of my leadership library.


  1. This sounds great. This author's perspective sounds very different from the usual "business" leadership books and I'm sure it would provide some wonderful insights of its own. I liked the summary of his key points, and really want to find a copy now to read through it in more detail. Fascinating!

  2. It was fascinating. I borrowed it from the library, but will likely buy a copy too.