Recently I read Mark Miller’s book, Chess Not Checkers. Being fairly new to the leadership game/leadership world, this was a reading for me that was full of incredible insight. Mark does an incredible job of taking leadership principles and implanting them very clearly into a story. The book is a quick read because it reads as a story, and yet it is a book that leaders should return to over and over to glean all of the incredible principles to elevate our leadership game.
When we first look at the title, it seems a little odd – Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game, but when we really begin to consider the implications of the game of chess and the game of checkers, the strategy is much different. As Mark Miller describes it, checkers is primarily reacting to situations or focusing on the problem instead of the cause of that problem. For example, in the book Miller uses the situation of a customer unhappy that they hadn’t received their order as they had been promised. The leader’s reaction was to expedite their order and ship it overnight so they would have it as promised. That is playing checkers. Chess looks into the background to figure out why they didn’t receive the order, who should have known about it, who should have really taken care of it before it reached the senior leader, why it wasn’t taken care of, etc.
Leaders can so often get into the habit of playing checkers because there are so many problems to deal with, so many fires to put out, and so many tasks to get completed. However, we have to take a hard look at our jobs and make the executive decision about what is within our realm of responsibility, what we must take action on personally, and what should be delegated and owned by a different member of the team. It is hard to relinquish control as a leader, and yet it is one of the most effective things we can do.
This book gets us thinking about not just how we lead, but who we are leading. Are we building into the leaders we have now, our starters? Are we building into and preparing the leaders who are up and coming, our bench? Are we unified as a team of leaders in this organization? Are we winning the hearts of those we lead and those who engage with our business/organization? Are we executing our game plan well?
These are all valid questions, and are dealt with in more detail in the book. I would encourage anyone who is either a current leader, a new leader, an old leader, or about to become a leader to read this book. It will really help you think clearly, see with a broader perspective, and elevate your leadership game.
A great thanks to Mark Miller and his team for allowing me to get an advance copy of the book to read, and my apologies it took so long to write a review for! It is my pleasure to be able to read and review this book, and really I have been blessed through reading this book and look forward to wrestling with how to implement the strategy of how to play chess instead of playing checkers!
You can check out more books by Mark Miller by clicking here.