Simon Western and Éric-Jean Garcia have facilitated a fascinating collection of leadership voices along with critical analysis that allows the reader to not only more deeply understand the themes that have emerged in Western research and practice on leadership, but to hear the ways leadership is practiced around this diverse globe—listening for both the places of commonality and the places of distinction. Their opening sentence makes their purpose clear: “This book sets out to ‘allow leadership to speak with different voices’, to liberate leadership from how it is portrayed in the dominant academic and popular literature, and to discover local and regional variations of leadership thinking and practice.” In “Global Leadership Perspectives: Insights and Analysis,” Western and Garcia invite the leader to listen to twenty different experiences of leadership in twenty different geographical locations. This makes up Part 1.
In Part 2, the authors dig into analysis, unpacking through four chapters their comprehensive methodology that examines both insider and outsider leadership patterns. They don’t shy away from either critique or encouragement. Regarding the tension between insider and outsider experiences in leadership they say, “This outsider-leadership analysis attempts to identify difference, nuances and hidden forms of leadership that are submerged (sometimes crushed) under the weight of the dominant and normative accounts of leadership that are imposed from the most powerful leadership voices. The dominant leadership discourses are shaped, taught and marketed mostly from Westernized sources.”
I experienced resonance with this statement as I read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” though I would add that the dominant discourses are shaped, taught and marketed mostly from white Westernized sources. King writes in response to his critiques: “One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: ‘Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?’ The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act.” King’s experience is viscerally different from the white voices around him. For King and his black colleagues, the need for action was urgent because they lived with the horrific, negative consequences of racism and segregation. The white leaders around him did not have this same level of urgency, and so, being shaped by a different set of leadership and cultural practices, they encouraged him and his colleagues to wait, to forebear. I believe this is the incarnational dynamic that Western and Garcia are seeking to address when they quote Petriglieri and Petriglieri: “…leadership has been narrowed “…to a goal-focused activity that can be broken down into a set of skills, on the one hand, or an expansion of it into a virtue’ on the other. They continue, saying this ‘dehumanizes leadership by disembodying and disembedding it, that is by severing its ties to identity, community, and context.’” It strikes me that Mandela had a similar experience in his long fight for freedom in South Africa—the white government and citizens did not understand his urgency and his perseverance because they lived a different reality. These different realities influenced their respective understandings and practices of leadership.
I read three different leadership voices in Part 1 of “Global Leadership Perspectives.” Chapter 1 gave voice to the Arab Middle East: Diwan, Ummah and Wasta: The Pillars of Arab Leadership, by David Weir (I must find out if he is related in some way to Rev. Dr. Ben Weir, a Presbyterian pastor and mission worker who served in Lebanon during the early years of Lebanon’s civil war. He was held hostage for a long while. His teaching legacy continues to live on in Lebanon.). Chapter 17 focused on South Africa: A Racialized and Gendered Leadership Landscape, by Peliwe Mnguni and Jeremias J. De Klerk. Chapter 20 examined the United States of America: Mourning in America: leadership in the Divided States of America, by Zachary Gabriel Green and Cheryl Getz.
It was fascinating to read leadership insights from these different contexts, all a part of who I am as a leader. My interest developed further as I read Western and Garcia’s analysis, mapping these four and the remaining 16 contexts within the four leadership discourses of controller, therapist, messiah, and echo-leadership. This was a new framework for me, and I am still digesting it. Their closing chapter on outsider leadership also hit home for me, especially when they grouped the outlier characteristics into six powerful themes: reclaiming the negative, edgy and disruptive, symptoms of despair, trauma and disenchantment, co-existing differences, and hopeful. They comment that each of these discourses are present in each context, as are these outlier characteristics, but they vary from culture to culture. It’s the variance that makes the difference. This is like Erin Meyer’s insights in her book, “The Culture Map.”
All of this leaves me contemplating how to better equip the young adults who will participate in my NPO to listen for the wide variety of leadership expressions in their context and in one another’s context. I have much to ponder.
 Western, Simon, and Éric-Jean Garcia. 2018. Global Leadership Perspectives: Insights and Analysis. Los Angeles London New Delhi Singapore Washington DC Melbourne: SAGE, 2.
 Ibid., 182.
 Jr., Martin Luther King. 2018. Letter From Birmingham Jail. UK: Penguin Books.
 Ibid., 6.
 Western and Garcia, 6.
 Mandela, Nelson. 2013. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
 Western and Garcia, 262.
 Meyer, Erin. 2015. The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done across Cultures. International edition, First edition. New York: Public Affairs.