There are many different kinds of leadership books in the marketplace. The most prevalent kind are books written by business school academics and biographies of leaders. Each has their value, but for practicality, the majority do not translate well into practice. Then there are books that are written by practitioners. This is what I found when I came across Andrew J. Harvey and Raymond E. Foster's Leadership: Texas Hold'em Style (www.pokerleadership.com).
I've played poker a few times. I own a copy of The Cincinnati Kid. I've watched some expert players play. None of this qualifies me as an expert on poker. However, I do find it a fascinating game. So, when I saw that two former law enforcement officers had written a book on leadership from the perspective of poker, I was definitely intrigued.
The authors quote David Moschella near the beginning of the book.
He is correct that leadership is like a poker game where the leader has to have the situational awareness to understand what is happening, and know how to respond so as to not squander his or her advantage.
Leadership Texas Hold'em Style is organized around 52 distinct leadership topics, each represented by one card in a standard card deck. The chapters are brief and are built around stories and illustrations of the principles described. This is not a book of theoretical reflection, though there is a lot of theory presented. Instead, it is a book where theories are described in a simple, clear manner.
Here's a sample of quotes where they use the metaphor of poker to explain aspects of leadership.
It is easy to see that poker is an ideal metaphor for the human dimension of leadership. Every leader must be able to read people, understand how they react in adverse and advantageous circumstances, and know when to fight a battle or fold. After reading this book, I have a deeper appreciation for poker as a game, and a fresh understanding of the complex dynamics of leading.
This was brought home to me in a quote by poker champion Phil Hellmuth, Jr.
Leadership Texas Hold'em Style is an excellent introduction to leadership for the person who is not interested in leadership as an academic subject. Harvey and Foster have not dumbed down the theory to make it accessible to everyone. Instead, they illustrate leadership concepts in ways that provide a basis for team discussion and individual understanding. In particular, I recommend the book as an ideal guide to leadership for middle managers and supervisors who need help learning how to manage the human dimension of their role.
The authors have done their homework. Leadership Texas Hold'em Style fills a niche in the leadership literature field that is welcome addition for the practicing leader.