The Great Man is Dead

The Great Man is Dead
Title: The Great Man is Dead
Author: Rob Cross
Date Reviewed: 8th August 2020
5 out of 10
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I’ve got mixed feelings about The Great Man is Dead by Rob Cross. I’m not instantly drawn to a book with “Great Man” in the title but I was definitely interested in the idea of “A New Philosophy for Leadership” as promised by the subtitle.

Let me get my gripes off my chest straight away. Even though the author does early on touch on the question that talking about leaders as “the great man” is sexist, I feel like he was just ticking a box. “Right, I’ve mentioned that it’s sexist and that anyone can play the role of the great man, I’ve covered that let’s move on…” But I still very much felt like it was a book about leadership by a man. Is that me being sexist against men? Probably. And I was genuinely doing my best to be open minded about it until I got to the anecdote on page 77 where he talks about meeting “two ladies” at a networking event and continued to refer to them as “the first lady” and “the second lady”. Argh! and again argh! “Women” is the word you’re looking for you twit. I didn’t find you referring to men as “gentlemen”.

Should that have bothered me quite so much? Probably not, but it was what tipped me over from kind of enjoying the book to really not wanting to finish it. Which I did manage to do!

So, I will fully admit that as a feminist I did find this book difficult. It’s not enough to just say “I’m not being sexist”, you also need to follow that up by not being sexist. But… trying to put that to one side, it is an interesting discussion of how leaders should no longer feel the need to be “the great man” and that there are better ways to approach leadership.

Overall I did enjoy the author’s writing style (give or take a blooper or two when it came to gender). The anecdotes were interesting and were a good accompaniment to the theory. But … each time I found myself getting interested in an anecdote, I found it cut off abruptly leaving me hanging. It was like each was just half a story without telling me how it ended. A bit dissatisfying I’m afraid.

Overall, I don’t really feel like this book was written for me. I’m looking for something different in a book about leadership – more female focussed I guess. But, a male leader caught up in a toxically masculine style of leadership would probably benefit from this hugely!

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