Book Review: Redefining Leadership by Joseph Stowell

“From God’s perspective, great and trusted leaders are those who have chosen to lead from the heart-side out” write Joe Stowell in his new book, Redefining Leadership. The redefinition Stowell provides puts an emphasis on character more than outcome.

The Outcome-Driven Leader motivates to achieve organizational outcomes, the Character-Driven Leader influence others through exemplary lives to achieve outcomes personally, spiritually, communally and organizationally. For me this was more a reaffirming spiritual leadership than redefining leadership.

I appreciated his recognition that the biggest challenge in leadership is me. Stewarding the leadership gift and recognizing the path your definition of success sends you are good parameters to remember in one’s leadership.

The strength of Redefining Leadership is laying out a philosophy for a leader that follows Christ with his personal stories and love of his father. The book was strong on defining leadership priorities, identity and kingdom living. Yet I kept thinking, “Yes, but how?” Christ is affirmed as our example, but we didn’t delve into the prayer life of Jesus as a habit of leadership.

One straw man I felt in the book was large church vs. small church pastor. The small church pastor often came off as the character driven leader to affirm, the large church pastor too often was the outcome driven leader. Having led churches of various sizes and having friends who do the same, the issue isn’t automatically the size of one’s church but the condition of one’s heart.

Another straw man was the realm of business leadership resources. His powerful illustration in Chapter 2: The Unlikely Leader of Pastor Bob’s fear he hadn’t even moved to good after reading Good to Great grabbed me. Yet Stowell never moved back to what is described as being a Level 5 leader in Good to Great, one that would affirm character based leadership is recognized in business and not just the church.

I give Redefining Leadership 4 out of 5 stars. More than redefining leadership the book reaffirmed servant leadership. If one is new to leadership in the church, Stowell paints a picture of God at work in stewarding leadership that is worth a closer look. If you need a look in the mirror about your leadership philosophy, this book provides a good peak at one’s heart. My thanks to Zondervan and BookLook Bloggers for a free copy to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review, just an honest one.



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