A good friend and UVic Business dean, Ali Dastmalchian, told me about this book by Steven B. Sample on leadership, The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership (Jossey-Bass). He highly recommended it as one of the best in the crowded field of books on leadership. Good call Ali!
Steven Sample is an engineer, inventor and the tenth president of the University of Southern California--now one of the top US universities--and he knows of what he speaks. He teaches a course with Warren Bennis every year for a very lucky group of students. Most of us aren't going to be sitting in that classroom but The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership is the next best thing.
There are a number of books out in the market on the concept of "accountability partners" but Sample's description of how to engage a leader's inner circle of advisors is brilliant. He says that he prefers line officers as his inner-circle of advisors (his wife is the exception). These people are at the coalface and know what the heat feels like when a decision is made and must be implemented. Like Machiavelli, Sample suggests you avoid flatterers and recognize that your inner-circle advisors have their own person agendas. This is not a bad thing, it just must be factored into the mix when making decisions. Here's my question: who are your inner-circle advisors?