Watership Down. Richard Adams.


Recently, someone I have known less than a year, but have grown to respect quite a bit, said this to me in an email:

You know, one of the best books on leadership I’ve ever read (although its really a narrative about rabbits) is Watership Down by Richard Adams. It’s a great summer-beach read. Check it out if you’ve not read it.

I had just recently given him a copy of “Leading with a Limp,” one of my new favorite non-fiction books.

My interest was piqued, so I headed over to Amazon to check it out.  What struck me there was the following chart of ratings:


I have never seen a book with that many 5 star ratings, so I immediately ordered it.  (Amazon Prime is such a bad thing!!!  Or a good thing depending on how you look at it.  🙂  )

It was really an excellent read — a great story; and there are great examples of leadership:

  • a leader that uses his resources wisely — by having those that follow him do tasks they are well suited to
  • a leader that is not afraid to take on risk himself when necessary
  • a leader that speaks what is appropriate to the appropriate rabbits (people) at the appropriate times
  • a leader that shows courage on the outside even when unsure on the inside
  • a leader that knows when to discuss his uncertainty with key rabbits (people) when necessary
  • a leader that “thinks outside the box” to solve problems or while facing difficult situations
  • a leader that is humble and recognizes his weaknesses, but is able to work around those weakness (often by using others around him that are strong in that area)

Of course, I was looking for leadership qualities and you may not notice all of those if you have just picked it up as a fun summer read.  But it is both fun and thought provoking as a leadership study if you want that too.

Only a few quotes:

  • “Besides, he was not particularly impressive in appearance or as a speaker.”  This one is somewhat surprising since most leaders are at some level attractive and almost always good speakers.  This was in reference to a particular situation where a delegate that was impressive in both appearance and as a speaker was very much warranted.
  • “For what is is what must be.”
  • “Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.  For them there is no winter food problem.  They have fires and warm clothes.  The winter cannot hurt them and therefore increases their sense of cleverness and security.”

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