Growth Whispering
by David Williams

ISBN:978-0646532127, Publisher: SLR Publications (April 2011)
Reviewed by: Julie Garland McLellan*

What is holding you back?

We all have the capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Most of us have done it more than once. Frequently, after we have picked ourselves up, we refocus on a different, and perhaps less ambitious, goal. Eventually this results in a life constrained by imagined boundaries of competence.

Growth Whispering is a book for people who are fed up with living within those boundaries. It is also a book for people who demand peak performance of themselves and who are willing to put in the effort to understand how performance is constrained and how to loosen the constraints.

The book is based upon a model or process that will satisfy the needs of the logic seeking reader. It has case studies that will inspire and motivate. It also has a depth and rigour that stem from the author's obvious expertise in the subject matter. Having read a little in the 'self help' genre, I found many of the concepts familiar. That does not mean this book has no new contribution. The book's simplicity belies the underlying rigour. It has been well written and the tone, whilst positive, lacks the saccharine that taints other books on the topic.

This is not, however, a book about an easy fix. There is serious work to be done for those who are willing to do it. Some of the exercises may be challenging. The book is all about resisting potentially dangerous experiences. If you read it thinking about something that is giving you grief it will definitely strike a chord and have you resisting and reacting to the words on the pages. If you suddenly find your hackles rising (as I did in a few places) take the time to put the book aside and ask yourself 'why?' The answers may be surprising.

It would be best, if working through issues of greater personal import than board room effectiveness, to have a close and supporting network of family and friends whilst attempting to work through the chapters. If using the book purely for workplace issues, the exercises will take you out of your comfort zone and provoke you to try things that do not come naturally.

The book is written by a successful executive coach, one who has built and run successful businesses. He has also worked with senior executives and, to a lesser extent, board members. This gives the book an authority that is refreshing because it is unusual. It also gives the book plenty of practical insight that will assist board members with motivating and encouraging an executive team.

This is a book that is written to generate results. It can be a bit relentless. It will deliver for anyone who is willing to put in the hard thinking time and then try out some new behaviours; not for the faint-hearted but very worthwhile and highly recommended.

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* Julie Garland McLellan is a professional non-executive director, board and governance consultant and mentor. She is the author of "Presenting to Boards", "Dilemmas, Dilemmas: practical case studies for company directors'", "The Director's Dilemma", "All Above Board: Great Governance for the Government Sector" and numerous articles on corporate strategy and governance.

Julie Garland McLellan to judge 2011 Global eBook Awards