Scan through the Leadership section in any bookstore and it doesn't take long to see a wide variety of inspiration: Military Strategists - confirmed bestsellers. Sports coaching - big business. Film and TV - growing in popularity. Rock -˜n' Roll? This could be a first.
Peter Cook (not the deceased comedian), ex-senior manager in pharmaceuticals, holder of an MBA, consultant and musician, has sought to take his love of music and his experiences playing and performing, and package them as providing a fresh perspective on twenty-first century leadership.
If this book was an album, there's one hit single that grabs you and, unfortunately, a collection of mediocre album tracks to pad it out.
The book has taken rock's classic cliche and drawn parallels with what Cook sees as three vital components of leadership: -˜sex' is all about your relationships; -˜drugs' is about motivation (your natural high, as well as identifying what it is for those you lead); and -˜rock -˜n' roll' means attitude.
Having established the -˜leadership is like rock -˜n' roll' analogy, Cook does hit on some really relevant points for business leaders. For example: -˜Musicians crucially understand the impact of atmosphere on performance' and -˜Who's playing the drums and bass in your business while all your stars are busy playing solos and smashing up their guitars?'
In the same way that other business titles have attempted to innovate with the accompanying parable, the funky layout or the bonus web-based content, this publisher and author have played about with the structure. The left-hand pages contain the main text; the right-hand pages contain the pithy soundbites, quotes (both from musicians and business gurus) and illustrations. In practice, I found this makes for a difficult read - get to the bottom of the page and you want to continue the train of thought overleaf; but you don't want to miss the nugget on the opposite page. I ended up flipping through the whole of the right-hand -˜book' first and then read the left-hand side.
As a big music fan that has spent some time with people in bands, I really liked the idea of this book. Early on I smiled on recognising the song titles dropped in as leadership lessons -
-˜It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it' - but torwards the end I found the analogy being stretched too far when Cook -attempted to explain Madonna and Bowie's periodic replacement of producers and backing bands as their key employees”.
I was also cringing in a watching-your-dad-dance-at-your- eighteenth-birthday-party kind of way at a middle-age-”management consultant talking about Eminem as an innovator.
The concept behind this book has sufficient really good material to make a great magazine feature, and I'd go and see Peter Cook speaking at a conference because he sounds like quite a character. The book itself would make a good gift item -for a colleague with an interest in music, or it would work as -an unusual primer on leadership for people new to a leadership role.
Peter Cook might have a one-hit wonder on his hands, we'll have to see how he copes with the follow-up.