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Leadership Rising: Raise Your Awareness, Raise Your Leadership, Raise Your Life

Leadership Rising: Raise Your Awareness, Raise Your Leadership, Raise Your Life by John Antal. Casemate, 2021, 192 pp. 

There are thousands of books about leadership in print, but if you had to pick just one to keep on your bookshelf, John Antal’s Leadership Rising: Raise Your Awareness, Raise Your Leadership, Raise Your Life is the one you want. This primer on leadership is a concise guide and interactive workbook in one. Throughout the book, Antal shares his thoughts and wisdom on leadership based upon his years of experience. He also superbly synthesizes the theories of some of the foremost contemporary authors on leadership such as Simon Sinek, John C. Maxwell, and Stephen Covey, along with timeless principles from the historical greats.

Antal is a proven expert on leadership, having served 30 years in the United States Army. During his distinguished career, he was a staff officer and commanded at multiple levels, attaining the rank of colonel. His postmilitary career spans 15 years in various roles as a leadership coach, guest speaker, and corporate leader. Antal has authored 16 books and hundreds of articles.

The author’s writing style is enjoyable and easy to read. There are some parallels and references to the Army’s manual on leadership, which should be expected from a retired Army officer. However, Antal does an outstanding job of keeping the book mostly free of military jargon, making it accessible to a very broad audience. Each chapter begins with a vignette that immediately captures the reader, as he sets the scene for the content and details to come.

Next, Antal argues his main points, continuing the vignettes to tell his story and keep the reader engaged, while providing supporting evidence from experts on leadership. Short exercises with worksheets are embedded in some chapters. While putting pen to paper to complete the exercises may make the reader feel vulnerable, it is a constructive and interactive way of learning and becoming self-aware. Finally, each chapter concludes with bullets which succinctly summarize the salient points covered, a nice touch for even the most time-strapped readers.

The first chapter of the book is titled “Know Yourself,” and this principle of self-reflection is Antal’s main thesis throughout. He contends that leadership is a journey that is difficult to navigate, but to get you to your destination, the first checkpoint is to know yourself. Antal implores the reader to reflect on and critically examine who you are, as it sets the foundation for understanding why you want to be a leader. Taking from Simon Sinek, he states that knowing your “why” is what inspires you to do what you do. In order to raise your leadership, you must first raise your awareness of yourself by looking inside. The first exercise is presented in this chapter, asking the reader to evaluate and rate their own leadership. He then guides the reader through practical methods to make self-assessment habitual. The chapter then concludes with a short section detailing the difference between a manager and a leader.

Each subsequent checkpoint along the path has its own chapter, building on the foundation and on each other. Keeping with the central thesis of knowing yourself, the next four chapters introduce Antal’s main principles, which requires introspection and calls readers to action. First, the author compels the readers to develop a purpose and lays out a multistep plan. He guides the readers through a series of exercises, culminating in the creation of a mind map that summarizes “who you are, who you want to be, and where you want to go.” In the third chapter, the reader is asked to visualize their leadership compass. This entails asking the reader to define their principles and definition of trust, using exercises and worksheets to go further into the depths of knowing yourself.

The fourth chapter is much shorter, but is just as important as the others, as readers start to put everything together and explore what leadership is. This chapter contains the book’s final exercise in the book, asking its readers to write out their own personal definition of leadership. Chapter five is the last checkpoint on the leadership path that requires a great deal of knowing self, and that is to develop your “superpowers.” The author says that the reader must be aware of their inherent talents and nurture them to develop those talents into superpowers. Antal then suggests seven superpowers to consider and does a fantastic job of arguing why all leaders should develop them. These four chapters really ask the reader to get to know themselves and write down answers to some tough questions.

In chapters six and seven, Andal diverges from the overall knowing yourself theme but nonetheless presents practical tips for becoming a better leader. He guides the reader through understanding the different types of problems and decisions a leader must make. The book concludes with a chapter on how to capitalize on the traits that a leader can use to get through the inevitable challenging times they will face on the leadership journey.

Leadership Rising would be useful for readers beginning their leadership journey and those more experienced and further along the path. This book will provide the reader with a plethora of knowledge irrespective of whether they work in the government, military, or the corporate world. Anyone who strives to improve their leadership skills should have this book in their library. Keep it right next to your notebook or journal and revisit the exercises from time to time. Reflect on your answers as you aim to raise your leadership, raise your awareness, and raise your life.

VB: Did you accidentally plan the cross media work?
I’m the author of ten books. I used to be the editor of the Armchair General magazine and wrote 250 articles. I was a professional soldier and wrote in a lot of Army magazines. I went into the game thinking we could do a history book and a novel too. Think of how many other game companies can have a guy creating the game, writing a novel and a history book at the same time.

VB: Can you paint me one of the scenes from the point of view of the game, the novel and the history book?
Imagine the air drop full of planes and parachutes by the thousands in the daylight. In the game and the novel, you land by glider because you’re part of the recon team. You have four guys in a jeep in the back of a glider, which is being towed from England. As you cross the Belgian border, you’re getting shot at by the German anti-aircraft guns. Once you got out, you had to really hustle.

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