Book Review: Where Have All The Leaders Gone?

Posted on: October 17, 2009
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By Lee Iacocca

Reviewed by Rocky Reichman


Lee Iacocca is a leader. And a former CEO. And a hero.

Lee is different from all the other critics complaining about America current state. Unlike most of them, Lee does not just rant about how politicians and current leaders are ill-fitted for their jobs, but he also comes up with better solutions. After all, it’s easy to complain about the government. But it takes courage to be able to come up with an improved solution and say “this is not working, but this might….” The entire book is nothing but sound advice. Strong advice. Meaningful advice.

Lee examines not only current politicians, but critiques all of the major forerunners of the 2008 election, which includes not only Senators McCain and Obama but also formers prospective candidates like Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. He has developed a special test for leaders too, which he calls the “Nine Cs of Leadership” (curiosity, creative, communicate, character, courage, conviction, charisma, competent and common sense).

Lee is a brilliant businessman. Which is what makes his advice so powerful even in a book largely based on politics. Because leaders exist everywhere. In business as well as in politics. Lee uses many of the lessons he learned in business and successfully applies them to current political problems. For example, if a new product (or program, or war) is costing lots of money and has very low to zero ROI (return on investment) then in business a company would drop it and improve things—the company would not continue to support the product, let alone pour more money into it.

Another important aspect of the book is that Lee speaks out about the wrongs of the American people as a whole, not just those of politicians. He comments on Americans’ current obsessions, greed, the incredible number of people who file lawsuits and collect millions in “punitive damages,” and the people who play the “blame game” and can never accept responsibility for their mistakes.

Most of the book’s critique on top politicians like Bush and Cheney does not provide any new information, but Lee also sheds light on other politicians and role players. And he does not limit his advice to politics either. Lee provides an insider look at the global marketplace. He explains American companies’ disadvantage with having to pay more than they can afford toward health care for their employees, while competing countries like Japan and China can hire employees without having to cover the ever-rising costs of health care and insurance. Lee also argues for free trade that is also fair trade, meaning that America exports as much as it imports. (Unfortunately, right now we import double what we export).

Where have all the leaders gone? contains too much critique of Bush, however, leaving little room to discuss anyone else. I would have hoped for—and from the title, I expected—to be reading a critique of all world leaders who have blundered, not just Bush.

However, Lee never lets his readers down. Where have all the leaders gone? offers a harsh yet realistic view of the current political and economic state of America, but at least ends on a hopeful note. We can save America, says Lee.

Like other great business people—Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to name two—Lee Iacocca certainly knows how to walk the walk and give back to this and the future generations.

Lee thinks leaders aren’t born, that they’re made in times of crisis. Well, Iacocca should know. He is one.


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