Book Review—Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success

By: Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch, and Sean Lynch

“Sparks are people who recognize that they don’t have to accept what’s given to them…A Spark is also a moment when you realize that you have the ability to be a part of the solution you seek…When Sparks are ignited, they’re a catalyst for personal and organizational change…Sparks are not defined by the place they hold on an organizational chart…Sparks are essential to the growth of any organization…Becoming a Spark is a choice…”

The authors believe that leaders are not born but made and in Spark, they lead you through the process of becoming a leader, showing you the traits you need to cultivate in order to be effective. And even if your title doesn’t reflect a leadership role, you can still be a leader. “A certificate or degree doesn’t make you a leader. You make you a leader.”

Spark contains an introduction, eight chapters, and a conclusion. It's a quick read (about 200 pages) but has great content that makes it a book you could to refer to again and again. At the end of each chapter the authors have listed “Spark Actions” which aren’t necessarily actions in a to-do sense, but instead things to consider such as “Understand the expectations others have for you—other people often have unspoken standards they’re measuring your performance against.”

As the authors are all former military officers, Spark has a strong military influence and many of the examples they use include stories from their military careers.

Two things I really liked about the book:

Chapter 2 spends time encouraging you to think about your values. What does that have to do with becoming a leader? If you are clear on what what is important to you, when you are in a position of having to make difficult choices, it’s easier to make the right one. “…If you’re not sure of what you value, you’re in a vulnerable place.”

The other thing that struck me about the book was how much of it applied to parenting as well as business. To maintain your credibility in a business relationship, you have to do what you say you will do. To be credible as a parent, your kids will expect you to do what you say you’ll do. There are further applications in the book so if you are a parent, I would encourage you to read Spark for that reason alone. Implementing the leadership ideals in the book would help us all be better parents.