The Shaping of an Effective Leader by Gayle D. Beebe

“Effective leadership is both an art and a science, there is more than one right way to lead.”

When and where I first noticed this book is a little bit of a mystery to me, but it is no surprise that a book about leadership written by college president landed in my hands. Gayle Beebe is the current president of Westmont College and former president of Spring Arbor University, both are highly renowned Christian institutions and members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. 

Beebe’s book appealed to me on many levels: it was concise (under 200 pages), it focused on leadership in the higher education (where I see my life’s calling), and the steps found in the book seemed practical and down-to-earth. 

Though the back cover states in big bold letters, “Leadership without formulas,” the leadership principles laid out throughout the book are quite formulaic. The bulk of the book is derived from Beebe’s mentor and leadership guru Peter Drucker. Much of the information is from Drucker’s writings or Beebe’s personal interactions with Drucker. In the end I feel like the book should have been entitled, “Leadership According to Drucker.”

Beebe divides leadership into eight cumulative principles with each subsequent principle building on the previous principle. Starting from the foundation, the eight principles are character, competence, chemistry, culture, compatibility, convictions, connections, and commitment. Each principle is given its own chapter and each chapter includes numerous bullet points, listed questions, and key values. It would be very interesting (and time consuming) to diagram the book into a workable infograph.

I found the book most interesting when Beebe dived into his own personal leadership experiences and shared examples from his leadership journey.

In the end, I found the book to be very interesting and his words on leadership to be timely yet ageless. By the end of the book, I found myself doing research on Peter Drucker, which I am sure is one of President Beebe’s key objectives.