Book and Bloom

By: Mr. Al Pete

Identity Leadership by Stedman Graham

Title: Identity Leadership: To Lead Others You Must First Lead Yourself

Author: Stedman Graham

Genre: Leadership • Self-Improvement

Pages: 272 pages 

Rating 5 out of 5 Crowns

What’s the word Kings and Queens. Hope everyone is great. I enjoyed this book from Stedman Graham. It was good to read his own words vs. being the obvious (in my mind). To add content, I was assigned to do a book review on a book that parallels with my career goals for school. Leadership is a topic that I’ve explored for some years, and I want to prepare myself to be fit for whatever leadership role I earn. 

Here’s the review. Hope you enjoy the reading and the book, if purchased. #TOTHETOP

The Book

Stedman Graham is the CEO of S. Graham & Associates, a firm that manages, markets, and consults various organizations. Some of his clients were the Indiana Pacers, the Minnesota Vikings, CVS Pharmacy, and KeyBank. He has authored eleven books, two of them being New York Times bestsellers. He’s also reluctantly known for being the longtime partner of Oprah Whitney. 

The book is a guide to finding one’s true self before and while being a leader. One of the main points that drove the book was consistently finding and knowing yourself. He stresses that one can’t lead people without mastering the act of leading oneself. He begins the book by speaking on self-leadership and how it can benefit a person. He gives multiple points about how that identification can bring positive change to organizations and people that are under a leader’s guidance and how a legacy can be made by fully being in the leadership space. 

Throughout the book, Graham hones in on self-actualization and how this process is continual. He states that it’s about extending your boundaries, learning new skills while enhancing old ones, growing in your style and abilities to be a leader, and more. He labels this term as the central theme of the book, which is evolving into your full self and exercising your full potential. 

In chapter 8, titled ‘The Nine-Step Story’, Graham shared some life stories that served as key points to his ideal nine steps of being an identity leader. With that, he mentions two key characteristics he prides on: persistence and optimism. It’s not often that a person shares their weaknesses that tend to appear when growing and attempting to reach a goal, but Graham’s statement about having low self-esteem but still believing in himself was powerful to me. Knowing that I have what it takes to be effective in whatever space I occupy, I’m still faced with doubt and wondering if I’m doing the correct things to reach a goal or empower a person or a group. Graham making his point known by identifying his weaknesses is a plus in my book. It also embraces the strength in a person to know their shortcomings. 

The weakness would come with the particular person reading the book. If a person has a stern characteristic about them, then this book would come off as being soft or more caring to people. With that, it has the potential to not motivate a bullheaded and tough individual. A book that displays this type of characteristic is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. When reading it, I felt like I was being talked down to. Granted, it gave some energy to stand on certain motives, but overall, most of the teachings in the book don’t fit my ideal leadership traits. 

Reading Graham’s book was easy, inspiring, and reassuring that my way of approaching leadership isn’t a flaw. The examples that he used throughout the book were things that I could relate to and they also hold light to any possible obstacles throughout one’s journey. Plus, it was an easy read. It wasn’t filled with overused diction and pointless stories. It was filled with thorough gems that can be easily applied to one’s life. 

The Bloom

Two points that stood out to me, which was obvious in its own way, were the labels he was faced with by being Black and being in a relationship with Oprah. These two factors have heavy potential to steer a goal-driven person away from the journey to succeed. Graham’s persistence and him tapping into his greatness helped him overcome the pressure that comes with being an African American, while being under the Oprah Winfrey shadow. Graham shared points in his journey where he worked hard and remained focused to make his work ethics and legacy stand on its own. Being able to overcome that adversity was great to read, being that I feel that I’m faced with these situations daily.