Book Review

The Art of Winning Commitment

by Dick Richards, AMACOM, New York, N.Y., 2004, 209 pp. with index, $24.95 hardcover

Dick Richards defines leadership to mean “inspiring others to commit their energy to a common purpose.” From that belief, he goes on to share descriptive examples of an eclectic group of exceptional people who know a lot about how leaders win emotion and spirit as well as intellect. Indeed, the full title of his book is The Art of Winning Commitment: 10 Ways Leaders Can Engage Minds, Hearts and Spirits.

Richards is a consultant for multinational corporations, as well as social service and educational organizations. He believes commitment is “the lifeblood of leadership” and so it follows that this book emphasizes ways that leaders can win extraordinary commitment from others.

From the rich personal stories and examples of strong leaders, Richards extracts and explores 10 competencies that leaders should master to convince, move and captivate people with a sense of higher purpose or commitment. Described in detail and demonstrated in action, these vital competencies include insight (seeing in a new way), fostering hope (creating a sense of the possible through optimism) and storytelling (making your vision compelling and inspiring).

Questions at the end of every chapter inspire contemplation and a serious thought. The 43 strategies for developing the 10 competencies are practical, though often surprising and even mystical. At a time when school administrators are finding it increasingly difficult to lead change and inspire the commitment of others, The Art of Winning Commitment is certain to become a useful and enlightening tool.

Reviewed by Ann S. Keim, superintendent, Pequea Valley School District, Kinzers, Pa.