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Leadership Lessons from Books I have Read

by Tshilidzi Marwala

Those who do not read, should not lead.’

South Africans certainly understand the disastrous consequences of a lack of leadership.  In Leadership Lessons from Books I Have Read, Tshilidzi Marwala – the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and holder of numerous degrees including a PhD in AI from the University of Cambridge – adopts the thesis that the source of good leadership is knowledge, and the source of knowledge is experience, which can take many forms – reading widely, listening, and engaging in discussion and debate with other knowledge seekers.  Tshilidzi has taken the leadership lessons from 50 accomplished authors over the past 200 years and distilled them into bite-sized chapters within four fascinating sections: Africa and the diaspora; the search for the ideal civil order; science, technology and society; and the leadership of nations.  He extracts an important lesson from each book and presents it in brief, succinct nuggets of insight.

This is a perfect dip-in-and-out book.  Whether you read Charles Dickens’s famous opening line “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” about revolution, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on gender based violence, Yuval Noah Harari’s take on artificial intelligence, George Orwell on dictatorship in 1984 or lessons from Nelson Mandela himself, you will take something from each of the professor’s insights.  Thought-provoking and challenging, I think its an excellent read in these troubled times.  It’s a book I’d like my children to read too.

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