A Different Ladder of Success

With an opening story of the Titanic sinking, the authors point out the captain of the ship was ultimately the blame for it’s sinking. All responsibility falls on the leader. The leader is responsible for everything within his or her leadership. The blame for hitting the iceberg and sinking the enormous vessel with all the lost lives is placed on Captain Smith’s leadership. From that story, deeper concerns arise. Every person leaves a heritage for future generations that follow. In Captain Smith’s case, his is a tarnished one.

The Ascent of a Leader was written for people who want to influence others and have an impact on their world for God. This book is for the person who longs to lead from his or her inner most being. The authors paint a graphic word picture of a ladder to describe two styles of leadership.

There is a choice for one who will lead. Each one is influenced by either of these two methods. These two methods are at opposite ends of the leadership spectrum though. Each leader must come to a conclusion of what they leave behind. Climbing up one of the two ladders of influence will have a lasting impact on others. The leader must be proactive on deciding which one they want to climb.

I love word pictures. I am a visual learner. If I can’t have pictures then I’ll settle for very descriptive stories or word pictures. Chapter 1 starts off with a story set in history. It is a leadership tragedy though. Many leaders will likely never be blamed for such a catastrophic event, a decision that went against Captain Smith’s better judgment costing the lives of many.

Since the authors used a story to start the book off, I found myself looking for the point they wanted to teach. They are good storytellers. At times, a leader must look below the surface to find the problem or solution. It’s those things below the surface, such as icebergs, that cause the most damage. In the case of the Titanic, the destruction happened below the water’s surface.

I have learned that true leadership lies below the surface of any leader.


Thrall, Bill, McNicol, Bruce and Ken McElrath. The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.


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