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Summary: The Managerial Leadership Journey: An Unconventional Business Pursuit by Julian Chapman


Enlightened leaders and exceptional managers needn’t occupy separate roles. In fact, according to retired Canadian Armed Forces brigadier-general Julian Chapman, in today’s business climate you need the best of both worlds. Leadership traditionally is considered more dynamic and glamorous, yet management is equally important and worthy of respect. Managerial leadership calls for positively influencing others while achieving your goals. But Chapman, who has also run a company, warns that if you don’t like making decisions or telling people what to do, you’re better off as an individual contributor. His brand of leadership and management is not for the faint of heart.


  • Organizations need strong leadership and good management to achieve excellence.
  • Managerial leadership demands more thinking and less doing.
  • Bosses must be assertive.
  • A psychological phenomenon – Anaklesis, the desire to stick with the familiar and not burden anyone – stifles work relationships.
  • Enlightened leaders recognize their employees’ value.
  • Authentic leaders take a deep dive into themselves.
  • Serving others first generates loyalty and commitment.

Book Summary: The Managerial Leadership Journey - An Unconventional Business Pursuit


Organizations need strong leadership and good management to achieve excellence.

People commonly use the terms “leadership” and “management” interchangeably, even though they grant more prestige to leadership. Though the two are distinctly different, you need elements of both to succeed. Leaders inspire employees and enable them to maximize their potential.Managers operate more behind the scenes, focusing on organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Leadership is people-oriented; management, task-oriented.

“Despite what countless business books say, leadership is not all there is, and management is not a bad thing.”

Managerial leadership combines both competencies so you’re working toward your goals while positively influencing others – a delicate balancing act. Too much emphasis on management – getting things done – can burn people out.Trying to motivate and please everyone can interfere with attaining your objectives and fulfilling your obligations to your organization.Effective managerial leaders acknowledge the competing interests that always exist “in the realm of tasks and people.”

Managerial leadership can be an important step in your professional evolution. Over the years, you’ve succeeded in your field and mastered specific skills,but experience and expertise will take you only so far.

“Tension is critical to success…We need goals that pull us forward; otherwise, we don’t go far enough.”

Practicing managerial leadership gives you a path to an expanded role and additional responsibilities. Instead of focusing only on yourself, you are accepting the mandate to produce results through other people. New managerial leaders often struggle with their role. They lose patience with those who have a different approach toward getting things done. New managerial leaders may become more forceful and insistent on “task delivery.” Or they may jump in and personally do the work, which makes them feel relevant and valued, but always proves counter-productive.

Managerial leadership demands more thinking and less doing.

Employees believe that their worth depends solely on what they can do with their hands. For example, one senior HR executive’s favorite job is studying compensation printouts. She shuts her door, so she can concentrate, and she believes she’s providing value by using her expertise to form an analysis. But she is essentially ignoring her managerial leadership duties.

View managerial leadership as your profession, not as a side job. It requires years of “learning and practice to integrate tasks and people.” Managerial leadership is fluid because it’s unpredictable. You must constantly adjust to people and circumstances. That means managerial leadership isn’t a good fit for those who don’t like dealing with people. Those leaders are better off as an individual contributors.

“There is no cookie-cutter approach to human beings. They will always amaze you.”

You can acquire leadership and management skills; you don’t have to be born with them. Acquiring these skills requires identifying the necessary proficiencies and committing to learning them. You’ll need three fundamentals:

  • Quiet reflection – Carving out time to ponder the meaning of managerial leadership is challenging in a fast-paced world. “Doing” typically takes precedence over “thinking,” but give yourself time to think.
  • Perseverance – By developing discipline, you can eliminate distractions and focus on the task at hand. Contemporary society emphasizes solving problems quickly so you can move on to the next thing, but speed isn’t beneficial.
  • Authenticity – Leadership and management theories from business literature have merit, but every situation is unique. What works in some other organization is unlikely to apply to your operation. Tailor your solutions to your circumstance.

Management has gotten a bad rap over the years, going back to the 1950s when it saw employees as, “resources to be controlled.” But leadership and management intertwine. Managerial leadership requires hard work and practice. Expect to make mistakes, so be sure to learn from them.

“We lack discipline in modern society because we want a quick solution.”

Turn to your own manager for help in navigating the complexities of managerial leadership.Helping you is the definition of that job. Your manager’s professional path is similar to yours. Like your manager, you are engaged in “planning and thinking” more than you’re engaged in “doing,” so you can struggle and learn together.

Bosses must be assertive.

Companies cannot prosper without a strong workforce. Ultimately, however, bosses determine an organization’s success, regardless of industry or sector. Yet, too many managerial leaders are unwilling to take charge and do what’s necessary.When you are unsure about issuing directions and telling people what to do, go back to your boss and define your team’s role in fulfilling your organization’s goals.

Your organization’s strategy defines your objectives, values and mission and establishes your operational framework. Corporate off-site meetings allow you to “get away and reflect” about these matters, but they are useless unless you can execute the game plan that emerges – and that’s a function of management.

Enthusiastically leading your team into “battle” without a step-by-step strategy creates confusion, discomfort and resentment. Don’t expect your team members to figure things out themselves; provide direction. Employees should know what you expect of them and that they can depend on your support.

“Aligning the organization is all about creating structure for people to work together effectively.”

The managerial leadership model distinguishes between responsibility and accountability. Responsibility reflects an individual’s subjective personal commitment. As a managerial leader, learn to use feedback and coaching to bring people along and help them achieve their goals, while holding them accountable for fulfilling your expectations of them.

The way to enforce their accountability is to deliver consequences ranging from praise and financial bonuses to dismissal – and everything in between. Enforcing consequences is part of your job. If your employees are falling short, talk to them. If you’re falling short, your boss needs to have a conversation with you.

A psychological phenomenon – Anaklesis, the desire to stick with the familiar and not burden anyone – stifles work relationships.

An effective organizational structure begins with defining work roles and expectations. Complex work requires more sophisticated capabilities, so be careful not to place people in positions for which they lack qualifications.

Anaklesis, the human desire to stick with what’s comfortable and avoid stepping on other peoples’ toes – first identified by Sigmund Freud – can have a negative impact on work relationships.For example, say an employee needs help from his colleagues, but doesn’t want to burden or offend them, so he’s not completely honest with his request – and the consequences is that he doesn’t learn what he needs to know.

Anaklesis is often the culprit when managers avoid having frank conversations with employees for fear that that the employees will then dislike them It prevents necessary discussions, perpetuates dishonesty and fuels organizational dysfunction.

“Employees should not have to screw up their courage to work with one another.”

Strong cognitive ability is part of a manager’s value to an organization. A managerial leader should be able to explain the reasons someone’s work matters and to describe the correct end result. Good managers also know how to access essential resources.

The “manager of managers” – the person to whom managers report – is ultimately responsible for assessing and developing talent. Managers may be too involved in the day-to-day routine to evaluate objectively which employees are ready for the next level.Those who manage other managers should establish consistent and universal standards for them.

Enlightened leaders recognize their employees’ value.

The global pandemic introduced a new dimension to the concept of enlightened leadership. Instead of focusing on business results and employee performance, leaders had to pay attention to their workers’ health and well-being. Leaders also had to confront their own vulnerabilities in the face of COVID’s physical and psychological threats. Now more than ever, leaders recognize the value of their employees and the importance of mutually respectful relationships.

“It is easy to take a stand when there is no wind, but once the gale hits, that is different.”

Enlightened leadership has three primary components – “authentic, servant and transformational leadership.” Authentic leadership requires heightened mindfulness and authenticity; servant leadership prioritizes caring for your employees; and transformational leadership emphasizes the continual improvement and evolution of your team and company. Practicing the tenets of enlightened leadership is a challenge – particularly when you hit a rough patch or get bogged down in the daily tasks and responsibilities that often interfere with implementing enlightened leadership principles.

Thus, a manager of managers is necessary; he or she can show you how to conquer the “tyranny of do” and become an effective leader. The pandemic forced many mid-level leaders into positions for which they lacked preparation, but even without that huge disruption, leaders at every level require guidance.

Authentic leaders take a deep dive into themselves.

Authentic leaders devote sufficient time and effort to understanding themselves. Practicing self-awareness, you can acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, determine what you want out of life and practice integrity. Authentic leaders strive to be the best versions of themselves, not imposters living up to other people’s standards. When you’re dishonest with yourself, you leave yourself vulnerable to internal conflict and misalignment.

“Understanding your strengths is about knowing what you are uniquely good at.”

Be confident about yourself and your work, but don’t fall into the trap of considering yourself superior; that’s the path to failed leadership and self-sabotage. Being unwilling to listen to different views demonstrates a lack of respect for others and will cause people to turn against you when you need them to carry out their tasks and meet your mutual goals. Your ethical foundation can help you understand how to value your colleagues and show them respect.

Serving others first generates loyalty and commitment.

Servant leadership means prioritizing others’ needs above your own. Taking care of the people responsible for your and your company’s success simply makes sense. Get to know your team members as well as you can, so you can help them be productive and achieve their potential. They will reward you with loyalty and commitment.

“Servant leaders ensure that their team truly understands their intent and direction.”

Communicate your expectations with crystal clarity, so you don’t saddle your team members with unnecessary work.Do whatever is in your power to remove obstacles from your their path. Help them succeed without – and this is crucial – doing their work for them. Alleviate the fear your people may experience when they take on new risks and responsibilities. Inspire them and instill confidence.

About the Author

Retired Canadian Armed Forces brigadier-general Julian Chapman is the president of Forrest & Company.



“The Managerial Leadership Journey: An Unconventional Business Pursuit” by Julian Chapman is a captivating and insightful book that offers a unique perspective on the art and science of managerial leadership. Chapman, a seasoned business leader and coach, takes readers on a journey that challenges conventional thinking and provides practical strategies for transforming leadership practices. This review aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the book’s key themes, strengths, and weaknesses, offering valuable insights for aspiring leaders and anyone looking to enhance their leadership skills.

Key Themes

  • The Evolution of Leadership: Chapman argues that leadership has evolved beyond traditional, top-down approaches. He emphasizes the importance of adapting to changing circumstances, embracing diversity, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and collaboration.
  • The Power of Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is a crucial aspect of leadership, as it enables leaders to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and biases. Chapman provides practical tools for readers to enhance their self-awareness and improve their decision-making abilities.
  • The Unconventional Path to Leadership: Chapman encourages readers to question conventional wisdom and embrace unconventional approaches to leadership. He emphasizes the importance of experimentation, learning from failure, and continuously adapting to new challenges.
  • The Human Side of Leadership: The book highlights the critical role that emotional intelligence, empathy, and authenticity play in leadership. Chapman argues that leaders must prioritize their own well-being and cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning in their work.
  • The Role of Culture and Purpose: Chapman emphasizes the importance of creating a culture that aligns with an organization’s purpose and values. He argues that leaders must prioritize fostering a positive work environment that encourages collaboration, creativity, and innovation.


  • Practical Insights: Chapman provides a wealth of practical insights and strategies for transforming leadership practices. The book is filled with actionable advice that readers can apply to their own leadership journeys.
  • Unique Perspective: The book offers a fresh and original perspective on leadership, challenging readers to question conventional wisdom and embrace unconventional approaches.
  • Engaging Writing Style: Chapman’s writing style is engaging and accessible, making the book an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
  • Real-World Examples: The book is filled with real-world examples and case studies that illustrate the concepts discussed in the book.


  • Lack of Depth in Certain Areas: While the book covers a wide range of topics related to leadership, some areas could benefit from more in-depth exploration. For example, the section on emotional intelligence could have been more comprehensive.
  • Limited Scope: The book primarily focuses on the managerial level of leadership, leaving some questions unanswered about leadership practices at higher levels of management.
  • Lack of Concrete Tools and Techniques: While the book provides some practical insights and strategies, it could benefit from more concrete tools and techniques for readers to apply in their own leadership journeys.


“The Managerial Leadership Journey: An Unconventional Business Pursuit” by Julian Chapman is an insightful and thought-provoking book that offers a unique perspective on the art and science of managerial leadership. While the book has some limitations, it provides valuable insights and practical strategies for transforming leadership practices. Readers looking to enhance their leadership skills or embark on a new leadership journey will find this book to be a valuable resource.

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