Book Review # 2: Legacy: 15 Lessons in Leadership

book review Apr 26, 2020

“What else is a legacy if not that which you leave behind after you have gone?”

Book Review:

Legacy: 15 Lessons in leadership. By James Kerr (2013)

James Kerr extracts lessons of leadership from The New Zealand All Blacks rugby club, which is considered the world’s most successful sporting team.

The structure of the book consists of a chapter directed toward a lesson in leadership, such as character. Kerr provides a brief explanation of why that lesson is important to the All Blacks organization, connects it to other successful organizations or individuals, then summarizes the chapter.


Okay I can get on board with that…

I consider this book ‘a reminder’. It’s a reminder to be conscious of your environment as you will be a product of it. The book is focused on creating the right environment for the right behaviors to occur.

Strength and success comes from creating a learning environment concerned with adaptive problem solving and continuous improvement (humility). Creating self-awareness is the answer.

I extracted components of the lessons to a collegiate environment in which coaches and staff have a major role and responsibility to develop athletes as people. There should be emphasis on individual/personal development and teaching young adults how to articulate themselves and start to understand who they are. Only then can a team truly exist. The players and team culture should be valued rather than obsessing about the results. There should be a focus on character over talent as there is a competitive advantage through cultural cohesion. 

“No one person has all the answers, but asking questions challenges the status quo, helps connect with core values and beliefs, and is a catalyst for individual improvement.”

Leaders must provide a higher meaning. Purpose and meaning is everything.

Require people to write down their purpose and core values.

“Adaptation is not a reaction, but a systematic series of actions. It isn’t just reacting to what’s happening in the moment, it is being the agent of change.”

Big Hitters:

    1. We all need reminders.
    2. Do not expect things to be handed to you. Humility is required to be a leader. “Sweep the floor” analogy. Entitled players hinder your chance for change.
    3. Create the highest possible operating standards. Structure a learning system and make strateges. The challenge is always bringing value-words to life, such as integrity, responsibility, and collaboration.
    4. Real Leaders Create Leaders. Identify qualities in others and help them succeed.
  • Create a ripple effect
  • Leave something in a better state than when you started
  • Humans can’t exist in isolation, we need connection
  • Don’t make people feel inferior, build people up and bring people together
  • Your legacy is what you teach
  • Find Solutions. Problem solving techniques are important.
  • Embrace expectations. There is a difference between fear of feedback or failure and harnessing that fear to positive effect. 
  • Learn how to think, not what to think.Constantly question. Practice with intensity and problem solving. Think for yourself.
  • In order to make a change their must be a plan:A Case for Change, A Compelling Picture of the Future, A Sustainable Capability to Change, and A credible Plan to Execute. There is a cyclical process of peaks and valleys to organizational cultures.
“Our social footprint is the impact our life has – or can have – on other lives.”

…To me this is probably what the purpose of coaching, sport – and/or – life is.

Overall Score: 4.0/10

I am just not a big fan of ‘inspirational books’ that are a bit over dramatic. My biggest pet peeve is when a 200 page book could be a 50 page book and just contains too much filler. I extracted a few good reminders relating to leadership and personal development that I will apply to coaching. However, I need to know the why; why these skill are important in relation to a transcendent goal and the book does not provide that. The last 4 chapters were also unnecessary and did not provide any value.

If you want to learn how to understand yourself, others, and explore human psychology, nothing is better than Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning: Architecture of belief Course



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