Is there any room in the market for more self-help books, I wondered with a sinking heart as I sat down to read another. This one starts with the well-rehearsed premise that jobs for life are over and the only person you can rely on to provide emotional and financial security is yourself. To lead yourself and others effectively you must first know yourself and why you think, feel and behave as you do.
You can change yourself, but it is no quick fix. Through a combination of heart (emotions), head (decision-making) and hand (working with others) you must take control, make the right choices, work out where you want to go and how to get there.
If you like self-assessment tests, there are lots of them here: personal leadership inventories, charts to map your style, timeline decision corridors and escalators, fantasy canyons, shared success matrices and much more.
If these sound suspiciously like the stock-in-trade of a management consultant, it could be because Mike Cope is a business-transformation consultant. However, Lead Yourself is clearly written and reasonably jargon-free. There are occasional lapses. We surely do not need 'values bridge bandwidth management', which is basically about learning to compromise.
Cope's anecdotes are homely and effective and the advice sensible. Each chapter ends with a summary, helpful for impatient or forgetful readers.
But if you do not like touchy-feeliness, this book is not for you. One section invites us to look at our relationships with others. 'Try to see their problems, feel their pain ...' (Oh please.) Yet compared to some self-help books this is mild.
Who is this book for? Mainly corporate wage slaves who do not feel in control of their lives and are unsure what to do about it. They must want to change.
How was it for me? The earth didn't move, but I'm not the target audience.
I answered yes to seven questions designed to find out what control I have over my life. This apparently means I have a clear sense of choice and direction. I'm not so sure, but I am self-employed, choose my own assignments and hours and have no great desire to change.
Does the book say anything startlingly new? Hmm. It certainly digs deeper on the self-analysis front and comes up with less glib answers than some of the genre. If you feel overwhelmed and in need of a change, this book is readable and entertaining. It may do the trick for you.