Small but pretty perfectly formed, with the Leadership Factor, Drew Povey has condensed a lifetime of voracious reading of business and leadership books into one slender and digestible tome.
The Leadership Factor is broken down by Drew into seven main factors: Curiosity; Changeability; Charisma; Connection; Confidence; Collaboration; and Courage. These elements are digested alongside some handy self-diagnostic tools and tables to help readers to focus on certain areas of leadership. The book can also be handily read as a refresher on thinking around how to approach different elements of business leadership and the small personal changes each individual can make. Each factor gets its own chapter deep-dive exploration into why these qualities are important both for personal goals, and when it comes to leading teams.
Drew has clearly done the reading, a lot of it. He talks frequently about how widely he has read around the topic of leadership and success throughout his lifetime. Some of the examples he uses may have a familiar ring to them, but they work well to illustrate his point. Where the book really comes alive is when he relates each ‘factor’ to elements in his personal experience and career. This is most noticeable in the ‘Courage’ chapter, where he discusses when he was suspended and subsequently resigned from his role after an investigation into record keeping abnormalities at Harrop Fold.
Drew clearly found this a particularly stressful and difficult period in his career, and his perspective on how he interpreted the Courage principle at that time provides a unique viewpoint into leadership during adversity. All too often, leadership business books focus on elements working well during successful periods, or use narratives from outside observers who can’t express the emotional side of working through really thorny and complicated problems. These stories really come to life with the perspective that only a first-hand experience can provide.
Drew’s honesty about the impact upon his family life as well as his career is a very refreshing change, and reminds us all that while we may be leaders of ourselves and of teams, we’re also human beings. No-one gets everything right first time – another point which Drew makes throughout his book – but often those mistakes and failures we overcome along the way make us all the better as a result.
The Leadership Factor overall is a fairly light read. Busy people could easily pick it up, read through a chapter on their commute, and put it back down again. This isn’t one of those books we’ll all still be talking about in five years’ time, as it doesn’t include any groundbreaking theories or insights – but it is a handy reminder tool for those who want to keep an eye on how they are approaching their leadership challenges and reflecting upon their leadership style.
By Mark Evans, Managing Director of Marketing and Digital at Direct Line Group