Dr. Michael McGough knows a lot about leadership.
He also knows there’s a lesson to learn from every kind of leader, whether that person ultimately makes good or bad decisions.
From presidents to decorated military officers to everyday men and women, McGough says the way a person leads his or her own life dictates the kind of organizational leader they will be.
So, the basic premise of his new book, entitled “Personal Leadership: The Art of Leading You,” is simple.
“If you’re not leading yourself, how can you lead anyone else?” he said.
In his book, the first in what he hopes to develop into a series on leadership, McGough focuses on what he considers the three most significant aspects of personal leadership: time management, interpersonal relationships, and self-care. Using both fiction and nonfiction, he delves into how various historical figures demonstrated effective personal leadership.
He also addresses 10 attributes of successful leaders, which include a strong moral compass, a willingness to self-sacrifice, and an ability to draw out the strengths and talents in others. Effective leaders create a “positive upward spiral,” pushing others to continually improve and thereby improving their entire organization, he said.
“In many instances we’re satisfied with what is,” he said. “’Good enough’ is the archenemy of ‘great.’”
A former history teacher and then a professor at York College of Pennsylvania, McGough believes in looking beyond the facts and figures of history to find useful lessons for the present day. He has also been a Licensed Battlefield Guide since 1976, and draws on that experience as he facilitates seminars that focus on leadership lessons from the Battle of Gettysburg.
“History becomes much more than names and dates and events if you can learn from it,” he said. “Learning allows each generation to move ahead.”
McGough focuses on both failures and achievements for his leadership lessons. Throughout his work in teaching, leadership training and writing, he said he’s learned that looking at issues from multiple perspectives is key to understanding.
“You have to be willing to argue both sides of an issue,” he said. “If you can do that, then you probably understand it.”
With one book behind him, McGough said he’s currently working on outlines for several other books on historical and organizational leadership. McGough is also a columnist for the Gettysburg Times.
“Personal Leadership: The Art of Leading You” is now available for purchase through McGough’s website, leadershipMRM.com.