Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Ian Garner
Business Writer
12:00 AM 8th June 2024

Business Book Review: Front Line Leadership

Front Line Leadership: How to Eliminate Complacency and Build All-In Engagement, by Patrick Nelson, offers insights into military service-based leadership and applies the lessons to non-military organisations and leaders with practical tools.

Nelson sets the scene at the start of his story by describing his background. I mention his story because, unlike many business books, he spins a yarn that is both entertaining and informative. It’s an easy read, and I felt as if he was talking to me in a gentle one-to-one style.

He grew up in a small town in rural Minnesota, in America’s Upper Midwest, and joined the US Army as a young man shortly after 9/11 in 2001. Three deployments to warzones occurred, once in Iraq and twice in Afghanistan. After suffering from injuries for about seven years, which led to a temporary addiction to painkillers, he left the Army.

His background couldn’t be more different from my own, but I really felt I could relate to him because of his values. He believes that we should have a positive mindset in our careers and in life. We should have a plan for what we want to accomplish and be proactive in achieving our goals.

His motto seems to be “go for it; don’t leave it to chance; plan and make it happen.” I can relate to that, and I see something we might have in common if we ever met in person rather than across the pages of a book.

He talks about the constraints we face in our careers, be they financial, family, geographic, or many of the other barriers we have set or set in our way.

...go for it; don’t leave it to chance; plan and make it happen.
He discusses the things that might hold you back at work. Do you hesitate to volunteer for leadership or new project roles because you fear you might fail? Do you avoid feedback because you’re afraid of what you might hear?

His first piece of advice is to adopt a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. He describes a fixed mindset as one that aims to stay within the comfort zone. A growth mindset is one that sees risks as opportunities. People with a growth mindset don’t let failure define them and view it as a chance to learn, grow, and get better.

His story discusses how you should lead yourself, your team, and the culture that drives them forward.

...a combination of autobiography, travelogue, war story, and business book.
One of the things I enjoyed about the book was the conversational style. Many business books tend to speak directly to and even patronise the reader. Some simply outline what they want you to take away from their book, and they can come across as quite 'preachy', akin to a harsh teacher or lecturer. He’s not patronising and explains all his theories and suggestions by describing what he has done and giving honest answers about outcomes.

Some of his examples fall under the category “do as I say, not as I do,” or, more accurately, “as I did.” This gives it a real sense of authenticity.

He covers topics such as mindset, continuous improvement, leading by example, motivation, delegation, accountability, and culture.

If you are a keen reader of business books, like me, you would have heard so many thoughts, theories, and ideas to cover these topics until, figuratively, they were coming out of your ears. Well, don’t be put off; Nelson covers these topics in a very entertaining way.

I really enjoyed reading the book. It was a combination of autobiography, travelogue, war story, and business book. I found little nuggets of wisdom along the way and enjoyed the saga immensely.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good tale and likes to learn a little something along the way.

It's not at all stuffy, and if you're a bit sad like me, you could enjoy it as summer reading on a long journey or, heaven forbid, on a beach somewhere in the sun!

Patrick Nelson's Front Line Leadership: How to Eliminate Complacency and Build All-In Engagement, published by John Wiley & Sons, will be released on July 2, 2024, and can be pre-ordered via Amazon.