Guides to good leadership

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
Mike Syms offers a selection of useful books for those concerned with managing colleges

Leadership. by Rudolph Giuliani. Little Brown.

This book is full of personal anecdotes on what has sustained Giuliani through an extraordinary career. Who can forget his inspiring leadership of New York city in the aftermath of September 11 ?

It is a unique guide to the principles that proved so effective when he was mayor of America's biggest city and throughout the rest of his amazing career.

Whether dealing with a major catastrophe or the day-to-day challenges of running the services of a large city, Giuliani's approach applies to managers in enterprises of all sizes.

Serve to Lead: An Anthology, compiled at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst Throughout my military career, both on operations and in peace-keeping duties, I relied heavily on this particular collection of leadership thoughts. When teaching at various staff colleges, I always found the case studies gave validity to the principles and route map for leadership and management subjects.

Headings such as Knowing your men, Leading from the front, Being clear about your aim and purpose, have clear influence on education today.

Some people possess an innate superiority that gives them a dominating influence over their contemporaries and marks them out for leadership. This phenomenon is as certain as it is mysterious. It is apparent in every gathering of human beings, in every circumstance and on every cultural level.

In a school or a college it will be found among the students, in a factory or a business it will manifest itself among the workers. Similarly, within the Government and the nation, there are those who, assured and withouth hesitation, take the lead and shape the general conduct.

Success Against the Odds - Five Years on - Revisiting Effective Schools in Disadvantaged Areas

edited by Margaret Maden

Routledge Farmer

This wonderful collection is based on a national commission and education study, which was carried out nearly 10 years ago. It is a unique report on school effectiveness and improvement. Leading educationists revisit some dozen schools and look at why they are succeeding.

This is not just a "quick-fix book", but an opportunity to consider how success can be sustained in the long term. It also has some useful figures and tables on how to measure such performance.

Effective Strategic Leadership

by John Adair

Pan books

John Adair taught me at the Royal Military Academy where he was for many years the professor of leadership studies. This book suggests there are not enough effective strategic leaders. He explains that, although a strategic leader is essentially the leader of an organisation, an "effective"

strategic leader is one who delivers the goods in terms of what the organisation expects from its leadership, particularly in times of change.

His leadership ideas are based on three main interlocking ingredients: the team, operations, and strategy.

100 Greatest Ideas for Effective Leadership and Management

by John Adair


I finish with this collection because in leading and managing our colleges today we have never had to face a greater challenge. We understand that managing and leading are different things and we appreciate that both are crucial. Throughout my career in both peace and war it was always difficult to find advice or guidance from a proven expert. This book looks at the issues that individuals have to get to grips with if they are to perform well as managers or leaders. To be successful at either, you have to be organised and disciplined, good at goal setting and focused on objectives.

You need to be able to think outside the box and to make sensible decisions, to be able to lead and to motivate and communicate with other people. This book is ideal for picking and mixing as appropriate.

Mike Syms, a former army officer, is principal of Portland College, a residential college for people with physical disabilities in Mansfield

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today