The Leader (Author Interview)

The Leader looks like an exciting management book.  Can you tell us a little about it?

Definitely. I wanted to take what I saw in the managers around me and distinguish the delineation between leadership and management. All too often they are almost seen as the same thing, but if you can realize the difference between the two, then you can really harness the opportunity to learn more about yourself, and get a better insight in the leaders and managers you work with.

It’s also important to point out the fact that everyone is a leader and manager. A mum at home with the kids does a great deal of management, structuring kids days and making sure they stay on some level of tasking is no easy task. The for how a child becomes who they are, I see my daughter and I can see she is a mirror of my wife, leaders develop other people in a similar fashion to who they are, or where they are going. You can find leadership in everything you do.

What I do in this book is highlight every avenue of leadership and management in my life, and I use the experiences of others to reflect on this. The book is also there to help you become a better person, my intention is to add value, if it does that, I believe that the objective of the book is being fulfilled.


How long did it take you to write The Leader?

This book took 6 years from start to today getting the book out there in the market. A long journey, there was never a perfect straight line, it was up and down but I was consistent in my milestones, I set out clear expectations of myself and made sure I took the time to press forward. This book has definitely helped me to write and collate a story for my next books more effectively.


What inspired you when writing The Leader?   

Bad leaders. People who I saw as bad influences, they taught me so much, when I would talk with colleagues about managers or leaders people would focus on the bad points. I was able to look at these bad point and use them as lessons. The same for their good points, use them as lessons. ‘I either win, or I learn’.


What will readers get out of your book?

To understand that they themselves are leaders and managers, we all are. It is important to realize that we all dabble in this area of people movement. There is no perfect way of doing something, but there are perspectives and opportunities to give people direction. ‘It doesn’t matter so much as to where you stand, what matters is in which direction you are headed’. My readers will get a different perspective on leadership and management, and the intention is that you get a boost to your own development. This book is employed to help you learn, to be better, to use some of the tools and concepts in this book to help you either build momentum or find direction.


How did you come up with the ideas in The Leader?

I liken myself to my spirit animal. The Wolf. A wolf works in a pack, each member of the pack has a task, they are all leaders in those tasks. There is a wolf in the pack that is the manager, structure and sets the tone. The Wolf is a great example of how people work together, there is always the ‘Alpha’, but each member takes the mantle in different circumstances. The world is moving forward and shared management or leadership is leading the way. Gone are the days of the King and Queen in any environment. We have moved forward to shared, or at least collaborative Command.
My book is designed to show this level of change from the dark ages to the modern era. Also The Leader is a strong representation of a Leader or Leaders. The Leader is a clear expectation that the book is about leadership, and with that comes management. A concept I touch on is also Command, which is the Legal authority of a position and direction. These three concepts explain each component of a person’s direction.

The real start of the book was when I was doing my Graduate Certificate and I did a section on Leadership & Management. I saw all of these scholarly articles, I thought I could attempt to write a paper of a page long to then use as a reference point. I was so interested that it ended up being 14 pages. So then I said, ‘why not just do a little bit more’ 40 pages later. It became a book, I thought, it would be pretty cool to be an author right? And I grew with it, I looked at what a book length needed to be and its intention. From there I had a structure (management) and the core idea of the book was what I was writing about (leadership). It seemed impossible before I started, now I am in the process of writing four books. It always seems impossible until it is done, then it just becomes a benchmark.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing The Leader?

Definitely a lot. I have opinions like every human being. There were many concepts I had to remove from the book that may have been a bit more sensitive to readers. My editor was good at flagging and reminding me to consider removing from my book. It wasn’t anything particular, but if the book is going to be read across the world it is worth sense checking. A good example is when I talked about a manager and employee relationship as a master and slave relationship. This can be a topic that although frame in a harmless instance, can still be seen as not a good term to use. There were others that were harmless, but it is good to have someone review what you are talking about and remove things that can be framed with less weighted terms.

The other part was time, writing a book and having the time to get all the bits and pieces together is a hard task. But the best advice I can give is if it was easy everyone would be doing it. So do the things that are hard and you will pave your own way forward. If no one else is doing it, it must be hard (or stupid) you can determine which one it is and decide if it has value in being progressed. For me, its not about the money of writing a book, there isn’t that much in it, what I get out of it is the ability to share with other people, I like to consider myself a people person. I want to invest my time into helping people, I get satisfaction out of that. So if it is hard, but you get something that gives you purpose and direction out of it, don’t give up, set yourself some tangible goals (use SMART) and move forward. Some days you don’t want to do it, fine, then add the task to tomorrow, but make sure it’s done tomorrow, hold yourself accountable and make it happen. Ultimately, only you can make consistent progress, you have to hold yourself to account to make anything happen in life. So get up and get going.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

Parents split when I was younger, that is the most clear memory I have as being a kid. It is a great lesson for me, not one to look at negatively, but one that has helped shape who I am today. Without it I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you today. I lived most of my life on the east coast of Australia in a small town, I got some great friends out of this move. I took a big leap when I was a bit older and started working in the city, it was a big step to take but I wanted more for myself. It was one of the most scary things I could have ever done. But I am here today because of the decisions I made for myself. I don’t regret anything. I have made a good career for myself, getting up the ranks within some big companies. How? Because I backed myself, I used the term ‘fake it till you make it’. You can’t know everything, but be good at what you do know and get others to help you in the areas that you don’t know. That is leadership at the core, helping people to achieve common goals by the art of influencing. There is more detail on me within my book, but I am nothing super special, but I make the most out of what I have. You can do the same.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

You can find me on my website – more books coming soon. The Leader I think is a good baseline, the next book builds the complexity of success and the third and fourth book should really engross you into it, I hope you don’t want to put the book down. Find me on linked in under gregoryniven_author or my linked in under Gregory Philip Niven, you can’t miss me.


The Plan for future books?

This is a book from a four part series, this book is on leadership and management, book number two is called The Knifes Edge, which is about risk and reward and understanding where success and failure is closely tied together. Much about the mindset and accomplishing what you want in life. The third book is called The Way Out which is about using life’s experiences, what you have learnt from my books and your own life, and using it to help others get out of situations that you can more easily navigate with experience, and your wisdom. Quoting an old friend, ‘what is the difference between the smart man and the wise man? The smart man learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the smart man’s mistakes’. The book also reminds the reader that you are tough and able to overcome anything, you just need to believe in yourself. And the fourth and final book of this series is called Rise, which is a summary of all of the books used as a recap once you have read the first three books.

Very exciting times, these other books will be released each year or six months, depends on how well my first book rolls out.