Tuesday, March 31, 2020

"Open, Honest, and Direct: A Guide to Unlocking Your Team's Potential" - Aaron Levy



I received a copy of Aaron Levy's "Open, Honest, and Direct: A Guide to Unlocking Your Team's Potential" as part of a Goodreads giveaway and am grateful for the opportunity to offer the book an honest review.

I struggled with how to rate "Open, Honest, and Direct." I vacillated between a 3 and 4-star rating several times in my mind. In reality, a 3.5-star review feels most accurate yet that's not allowed and a 4-star review simply feels a touch high for my overall feelings about the book.

"Open, Honest, and Direct" will most likely resonate with those early in their leadership experiences. Levy has incorporated a wealth of practical knowledge and exercises that can be utilized by leaders and up-and-coming leaders to evaluate one's own leadership style and practices and to ensure one's leadership is truly being as effective as possible.

If you're a more established leader, then "Open, Honest, and Direct" is less likely to be beneficial as an awful lot of this material is familiar and has been shared before. For example, while I resonated with Levy's recommendations regarding honest communication this type of recommendation is shared much more thoroughly and effectively in the book "Radical Candor."

One question I always ask myself after reading a book on leadership is "Would I let this person lead me?" Would I be part of their team? This isn't necessarily the same as saying "Is this person a good leader?" However, I'm most drawn to books that leave me feeling like "I would work for that person" or "I would be part of that team." I finished "Open, Honest, and Direct" feeling like I would never consider working for or being a part of Levy's team. Is he a solid leader? Of course. He's accomplished amazing things in business and that's respectable and admirable. However, I found myself not always resonating with his communication style and I occasionally felt like he was contradicting his own recommendations.

For example, there's a section in the book where he's talking about the importance of clear, direct communication to build up the team yet the consequence of the communication was a more passive resolution that two team members left the team. That just feels in conflict to me. I sometimes felt like Levy wasn't entirely in touch with the impact that he was having himself on the resolution of difficult situations.

While I had some issues with the book, for the most part, I appreciated its simplicity and I definitely appreciated Levy's generous insertion of practical exercises toward the end of the book. I appreciate writers who create ways for a book's impact to linger and Levy has definitely done that with "Open, Honest, and Direct."

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