Review of Alan Hunkins’ Cracking the Leadership Code: Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders

“Your title identifies you as a manager; your people make you a leader.” Donna Dubinsky.

Although Amazon now offers more than 100,000 books on leadership, apparently no one has “cracked the leadership code” until now. Also, three (rather than a coven of seven) “secrets to building strong leaders” have finally been revealed: context, communication, and collaboration.

I noticed that Hunkins’s bibliography lists not even one of these business thinkers: Warren Bennis, Isaiah Berlin, Jim Collins, Clayton Christensen, Peter Drucker, Robert Greenleaf, Charles Handy, Ron Heifetz, and C.K. Prahalad. They are among the world’s most highly admired authorities on leadership.

That said, every author of non-fiction seeks out information from the primary and secondary sources of greatest relevance to the given strategic objectives. In this instance, as Hunkins explains, “The goal of this book is to shorten your leadership learning curve and accelerate your leadership growth. Its content is drawn from two decades of fieldwork. I’ve had the good fortune of getting to work with and learn from a tremendous number of leaders and teachers, and this book represents a distillation of that knowledge.”

Hunkins seems to be an empiricist with a pragmatic approach to the leaders and leadership situations he has observed over the years. He shares the lessons to be learned, with the material organized within four Parts. Invoking direct address, “Part I provides context for the challenges faced by today’s leaders…In Part II, you will learn how to decrypt the first of the leadership principles: connection…Part III takes aim at one of the most challenging parts of leadership: communication…[and] Part IV dives deep into the third essential leadership principle: collaboration.”

Hunkins includes within his narrative dozens of real-world examples of successful strategies and tactics that are simple, clear, and replicable. The most effective leaders are tenacious pragmatists, driven to understand what works, what doesn’t, and most importantly why.

Over the years, while completing assignments for dozens of Fortune 100 clients who retained me to help accelerate their leadership development, it was obvious to me that there was no one “code” to “crack.” Introverts needed to develop a more compelling presence, extroverts needed to become better listeners; some needed to ask more questions, others needed to offer fewer answers, etc. You get the idea.

Alain Hunkins can help those who read this book to determine what specifically they need to do to become a more effective leader. His material can also be of substantial benefit to supervisors who have several direct reports entrusted to their care. Finally, I recommend this book to those who are now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked upon one.

I conclude this brief review with advice for aspiring leaders from Theodore Roosevelt: “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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