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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
237 pages
Jul 2004
Warner Faith

Paradox of Power: A Transforming View of Leadership

by Pat Williams

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


In Pat Williams’ latest book, The Paradox of Power, he attempts to unlock the secret to Jesus’ paradoxical leadership. According to Williams, Christian businessmen should be emulating Jesus’ leadership abilities, not the world’s. His theory is that Christian businessmen can unlock Jesus’ leadership skills by first understanding and then embracing Jesus’ wisdom.

The book's main point, and the basis for the title, is that a true leader dares to be last. This theme is taken right from Jesus' washing of His disciples’ feet. Though Jesus had complete authority, He displayed what a leader should be by humbling Himself before His disciples. Following this example, Mr. Williams explains that a true leader dares to be a fool, dares to be weak and fail, finds strengths out of adversity and becomes a servant.

Mr. Williams’ informal style at once engages the reader, but it quickly disintegrates into a “Be excited!” mantra that reads more like an advertisement than a concise guide to biblical leadership.

Throughout his book are real-life examples that add some clarification to his points, but some chapters are so full of examples that the reader has to wade through them to get to the message. The book could easily be half the size and still retain its power if some examples were removed.

As the co-founder of the Orlando Magic professional basketball team, Mr. Williams has years of leadership experience and has obviously tried many different leadership styles. By his own admission, his failures and revelations led him to examine a new way of leading, hence the “Paradox of Power.”

Williams begins by saying that a leader is someone who sees what isn’t there yet. Just as Jesus saw Peter as a rock before he ever was one, so, too, does the leader see unrealized potential in others and new goals to achieve.

In the second chapter he launches into the seven paradoxes of Jesus’ leadership. The chief one is that the wise leader dares to play the fool and win people to his side through his vulnerability.

And so the book goes down the list of the seven paradoxes and, through it all, a theme emerges. A leader is one who does not rely upon false pretenses or facades. Instead, a true leader is willing to admit his mistakes and his humanity and, by so doing, gains the trust and respect of his followers and peers.

However, it’s odd that a book focusing on Christ’s leadership would contain so few Bible verses to support it. Initially, Williams refers to the Bible for his support, but instead of using Bible verses to validate secular leadership styles, Williams justifies Christ’s example by citing a litany of secular anecdotes and examples. The result is a watered-down examination of Christ's leadership abilities.

Overall, though few Bible verses support the book, Mr. Williams competently tackles the paradoxes of Christ's leadership and breaks it down into easy-to-understand steps. However, his greatest strengths as a speaker are his biggest weaknesses as a writer. Overflowing excitement and a host of anecdotes may win over an audience, but it quickly becomes tedious and annoying in a book. Also, his abundant sports anecdotes may leave non-athletes feeling left out.

Despite its shortcomings, some nuggets of truth reside within the jungle of anecdotes. If you want a secular version of Christ’s leadership, then I suggest this book. But don't forget your highlighter, because you will want to mark the important material without having to plow back through all the examples. -- Erik Kielisch, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

One of the most innovative leaders in pro sports now reveals his secrets. Pat Williams's leadership model transcends common sense. It is based on a series of amazing paradoxes first taught by the greatest leader in human history, Jesus Christ. Now acclaimed motivator Pat Williams draws on the stories of great sports, business, political, military, and religious leaders who followed those concepts. The result is an inspiring and radically new approach to leadership in the twenty-first century. How Jesus led transformed history and can transform the way you lead your organization. Discover these and other life-changing principles:

• The visionary sees what isn't there. Jesus envisioned a new kingdom. Martin Luther King, Jr., envisioned a color-blind society. Learn how to see what doesn't exist-and then make it real.

• The powerful leader dares to be weak. Jesus was not a boss issuing orders, but a motivator who empowered those around him. Learn how sharing power makes you stronger.

• The successful leader values failure. Learn from great generals, coaches, CEOs, and Jesus himself how to turn failure into a launching pad for success.