My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had never met him before, though his children attended the same private school my sons did, yet we had never crossed paths. But just this last week we met for the first time at a surprise birthday party thrown at his home. During those three hours we explored each other's histories, hobbies and hopes. It was in the middle of our comfortable discussion that Thomas "Tom" Hill III, CEO of Kimray, Inc., discovered I do loads of book reviews and asked if I'd be willing to review his book. After a thoughtful pause I asked what the manuscript was about and he responded, "Leadership!" I agreed, and so was handed to me his recently published, 287 page hardback, "Recovering Leadership: Musings of an Addict Leader". It is written in such an easy way that I was able to complete it in two evenings.
Though "Recovering Leadership" is about leadership, it is also a tale, a chronicling of dreams, intentions, failures and recovery. As the author states, the book "is my story and the story of my family's company, Kimray, a leading manufacturer of valves and controls for oil and gas production." But even more intriguing, the "my story" part of the book is how the author nearly wrecked his family's company because he was an "addict leader - addicted to and motivated by my own accomplishment - and the culture I perpetuated was unhealthy and dysfunctional" (10). As I read I found myself absorbed into Hill's autobiographical narrative, which put flesh, blood and beating heart to the bones - the leadership principles - he brings out with each chapter.
Therefore "Recovering Leadership" is a title with a double entendre. The book is about leadership, CEO Thomas Hill III specifically, hitting rock bottom and recognizing that he was addicted to success, praise and accomplishment; that like all addicts, he misused, mishandled, manipulated and mangled to get his fix. But now he is on the road to recovering. And the volume really is about leadership, about regaining real leadership that serves the company's employees, its "team members," as well as seeking to make a difference in the world and the local community. It is about recovering the principle that the "way an organization treats people and uses resources will reveal what their true belief system is" (36). While I was reading I kept returning to my time spent with the author, reflecting on my interactions with him, and how this was the man I had engaged with. I was impressed with the way the man I met, and the man as self-portrayed, seemed to go together.
I spent 20 years in the USAF going to numerous Air Force leadership schools. I earned my Bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management, and I have poured over buckets of books on leadership for almost 4 decades. Therefore, I am normally leery of new books on this subject. To be honest, I was skeptical of this one when the author told me about it. But as I dove into the book, it captured me!
"Recovering Leadership" is truly a book about leadership. Not only does it present the Kimray story, and Tom Hill's story, but it maps out healthy leadership principles. This is a must read for corporate leaders, pastors, headmasters, Scout Masters, and Trail Life Trailmasters. It would be a worthwhile gift for that teenager in your life who has big dreams. And it should be in your hands as you think about life, love, losing, and living. I highly recommend the book!
My thanks to the author, Thomas Hill III, for the copy used for this review. The author made no stipulations or demands. Though I have met the man personally, I can honestly say that the remarks in this review are freely given.
You may purchase the book here: "Recovering Leadership"
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