I Have the Watch, by Jon S Rennie
Reviewed by James Harrison
There are no finite answers to the questions of leadership, which is why Harvard University estimate that there are over 15,000 books on the topic of leadership currently in print. I often find myself searching for a book that will add value and depth to my understanding and practice of leadership. Jon S. Rennie’s I Have the Watch is just that book. Fundamentally different to any leadership book I have encountered thus far, I Have the Watch is a collection of powerful leadership lessons. Rennie writes in a succinct and to-the-point manner, driving home valuable information that can benefit your people and develop you into a more conscientious and appreciative leader.
Rennie bases his book on his experiences as both a military leader and a civilian. As a military leader, he served as an officer aboard the USS Tennessee, a nuclear weapons submarine. As a civilian, he has spent two decades leading companies and as a leadership consultant. Drawing ideas and lessons learnt from both cultures, he provides fresh insights into how both leadership environments are fundamentally the same.
The book is a written as a collection of papers bundled into one easy-to-digest package. Surprisingly easy to read, each chapter delivers an effective punch of information that you can put into practice immediately. Rennie delivers lessons through experiences and pulls threads of leadership knowledge from both the good and bad.
No leader is the same, and each leader defines leadership in their own way. Jon S. Rennie defines leadership as ‘a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of [people], towards the achievement of a goal.’
The Leadership Triangle
Rennie introduces the leadership triangle to clarify his concept. The triangle is cornered by people, influence, and the goal. The leader, to Rennie, is the conductor whose job is coordinating and balancing these three elements. Rennie puts people on the top in order to remind leaders that people should be her or his highest priority. While I agree that people should always be your priority, after reading Rennie’s book I was still left feeling that, as a leader, you should always be prepared to step in the direction of ‘influence’ and ‘goal’ in order to achieve your team’s aim.
The focus of the book is on a leader’s greatest asset: their people.
Leadership is a people businessJon S. Rennie
Each chapter is named after a simple effect that you want to achieve as a leader. For example, “The Simple Act of Appreciation” or “Having Your Employees Back”. Each chapter is broken down into the lessons learnt, or concept of what Rennie is trying to say.
As an example, in the chapter entitled “The Importance of Respect”, he states in response to the question of ‘what leaders could do to improve employee engagement… survey respondents all point to one word: respect.’
Rennie then explains what leaders can do to show greater respect to their employees. Rennie states that there are seven principles that we can apply to show greater respect for our employees. These seven principles set an environment for your employees to grow, giving them the space to express their own ideas, feel comfortable and be confident doing so.
Concluding every chapter, Rennie summarises his ideas, leaving the reader with a paragraph of the effectiveness of following his guidance. He brings it back to the reader— as a leader — and how we can directly impact our employees and teams.
I cannot see this book leaving the top drawer of my desk soon. This book has a simple objective: do the right thing for your people, sacrifice the ‘me’ for the ‘we’. If you are new to leadership and you have the ambition to develop yourself and do the right thing for your subordinates, this book should be near the top of your reading list. Its writing style and format allow you to use it as a quick reference guide, drawing a breath of fresh air to your working environment. Real world examples are used to give the perfect analogy on how you can best achieve the effect desired on your team. Rennie states his goal in the last paragraph of the introduction ‘To provide practical leadership advise that you will use.’
This book hasn’t revolutionised leadership but it does provide real world, proven examples and techniques which you can apply today in order to get the best from your people.
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