The Ascent of a Leader
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More About This Title The Ascent of a Leader


A Leadership Network Publication

Become the leader people are proud to follow by opening yourself tothe influences that develop character: Anduring relationships withfriAnds, family, and God.Solidly based on Christian values, thispractical, visionary, and hope-filled book guides readers through astep-by-step process for developing both personal character and thenetwork of important relationships that enable character to winout, even in the face of setbacks, adversity, and temptations totake short cuts. Leadership is about character, the authors assert,and character weaves values like integrity, honesty, and selflessservice into the fabric of our lives, organizations, andcultures.

The Ascent of a Leader is written for ordinary people-mothers,husbands, bosses, secretaries, pastors, teachers, and students-whowant to develop extraordinary character, find and follow God's planfor their lives, and lead others where they need to go. We all haveinnate leadership potential. To maximize it, we must do much morethan develop performance-based skills, the authors assert. We mustconsciously choose who and what we allow to influence us, find anddevelop our humility, and build Anduring relationships withcolleagues, family, friAnds, and God. They offer engaging real-lifeexamples to show how we can grow into our true potential as leadersand inspire us to "make a difference in the 21st century-in ourfamilies, our communities, our companies, our government, and evenour world."

With a foreword by Ken Blanchard.



A former CPA, management consultant, and church leader, Bill Thrall(left) serves as leadership mentor for Leadership Catalyst, Inc. (LCI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to igniting character development in current and emerging leaders. Bruce McNicol(center) brings international experience in coaching leaders and serves as LCI's president. Ken McElrath(right) directs marketing for hi-tech start-up companies.


Foreword by TBD.



A Different Ladder to Success.

Big Leaders on Short Ladders.

Creating Environments That Uphold and Empower Us.

Nurturing Relationships That Ground and Sustain Us.

The First Rung: Stepping Up Through An Act of Trust.

The Second Rung: Choosing Vulnerability.

The Third Rung: Aligning with Truth.

The Fourth Rung: Paying the Price.

Chutes and Leaders: Stories from the Fourth Rung.

The Fifth Rung: Discovering Your Destiny.

Keeping Your Balance: Seven Challenges of the Fifth Rung

Becoming the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow.



The Authors.



"The Ascent of a Leader is a beautifully honest, deeply caring, and positively uplifting book. Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and Ken McElrath show us with their compelling stories and inspiring message how magic happens when leaders of character nurture an environment filled with grace. This book embraces you, and once you've read it you won't ever forget it. In a world filled with so much cynicism and fear, this is one book that definitely will fill your heart and soul with hope and joy." —Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge and Encouraging the Heart; chairman, Tom Peters Group/Learning Systems

"The Ascent of a Leader reiterates a truth that is timeless: "No man is an island." Through well-chosen parables and real-life examples, Thrall, McNicol, and McElrath offer valuable lessons in interdependence and show us how to engender 'trust, creativity, and hope'--in ourselves and others." —Jon Kyl, U.S. Senator from Arizona

"The Ascent of a Leader fits in the fine lineage of Greenleaf's Servant Leadership and De Pree's Leadership Is an Art. A must-read for leaders who know and leaders who wonder about a deeper foundation and a higher pinnacle. Transcendent, transparent,and authentic." —Daryl C. F. Wilson, general manager manufacturing, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc.

"Most leaders are familiar with and thrive on challenges and risks. The Ascent of a Leader deals with the greatest risks any of us can face: humility, transparency, and sacrifice. This book will challenge you in unique ways and help you view your calling with a new perspective." —Jack Alexander, CEO, WorldTravel Partners

"Leadership is all about relationships. This book is a must-read for those who want to lead in relationship building." —C. William Pollard, chairman, The ServiceMaster Company

"This inspiring book is essential reading for those who seek to earn the respect of the emerging generation who hunger for leaders whose personal and professional lives are centered on character and dignity." —Dick Capen, former U.S. ambassador to Spain, chairman and publisher of The Miami Herald

"Climbing the ladder of success is a driving passion for many in today's corporate America, but too often character is compromised on the way up. The Ascent of a Leader helped me think through both motives and means to true success." —John Beckett, president, R. W. Beckett Corporation; author, Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul

"The Ascent of a Leader powerfully cuts through all areas of life. I am confident these principles will profoundly enrich the leader's marriage, family, social, and corporate relationships." —Mike Singletary, NFL Hall of Fame

"The leadership journey that The Ascent of a Leader describes so well is truly an extraordinary experience, although not for the faint of heart. If we stay with the journey as the authors advise though, it takes us beyond our own minds and imaginations and leaves us astounded by grace. I would recommend this book for any leaders who are sincerely attracted to the challenge of letting God take them to places they've never been before." —Janet Hagberg, director, Silent Witness National Initiative; author, Real Power and The Critical Journey

"This powerful and inspiring book points to vital steps that can help readers move from selfishness to selflessness, from self-sufficiency to God-sufficiency. True leaders are spawned, the authors write, by small groups of faithful people in which participants can be healed and restored, and broken loose from human bondage to do the real work of the world." —George Gallup Jr., chairman, Gallup International Institute

"The Ascent of a Leader represents a ground-breaking blend of the technical and character aspects of leadership." —Bill Hybels, chairman, The Willow Creek Association

"Fresh, introspective, noble—this book contrasts the conventional leadership climb to sacred truth, mature living, and selfless achievement. The authors deftly describe what it means to lead by example and answer one of life's great questions, 'Why do people follow?'" —William Boyajian, president, Gemological Institute of America

"No matter what your leadership style, The Ascent of a Leader will make you reassess it. I hope that future leaders will adopt the important creative suggestions and insights in this book. A must-read for us all." —Wallace R. Hawley, founder, InterWest Partners; vice chairman, Center for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University

"A fascinating journey about personal relationships and the importance of character, integrity, and faith, which prepares one to step up the ladder in leadership." —Jerry Colangelo, president and chief executive officer, Phoenix Suns; managing general partner, Arizona Diamondbacks

"This outstanding book of principles provides leaders with unusual how-to's and practical steps for developing character. The Ascent of a Leader is a remarkable look at how young leaders learn to serve others and how older leaders learn to reach their destiny." —Matthew Parker, president, Institute for Black Family Development

"Today we see so many visible and disappointing examples of fallen and falling leaders ... in business, in government, in sports, even in religion. The Ascent of a Leader provides important insights into the critical importance of character development (rather than just skill development) in helping you fulfill your potential as a positive leader." —Dale Gifford, chief executive officer, Hewitt Associates

"A must-read for those wanting to make a difference in their businesses, communities, and families. A perfect blend of wisdom, compassion, and practical experience!" —Jay Abraham, director of sports, Franklin Covey

"This book is a profound and unique answer to the questions of our tumultuous society ... uncompromising character development produces profound influence and leadership ability." —Naomi Rhode, past president, National Speakers Association and '97 Cavett Winner

"This profound and timely book teaches us how to live well and to lead wisely. The Ascent of a Leader creatively shows us how to center our lives in unchanging principles that produce an enduring influence in all our relationships." —John R. Castle Jr., executive vice president (retired), EDS

"No topic is more timely for our culture than to learn how character and influence develop in relationships over a lifetime. The Ascent of a Leader shows us how to lay hold of it." —Larry Crabb, best-selling author, psychologist, distinguished scholar in residence

"A fresh-revolutionary-look at leadership. This book will not just change your leadership style, it will change you and the lives you touch." —Daniel Dominguez, CPA/partner, BDO Seidman, LLP

"Due to the current lack of spiritual leadership in our country, the message in these pages is deeply needed at this time across our land. It clearly promotes a principle-based pathway of leadership that fosters hope, trust, reconciliation, and character." —John M. Perkins, founder, John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development

"The Ascent of a Leader is truly a 'holy' book for anyone on the leadership path. As a young leader of a family business, this book provided a roadmap (or ladder!) for me on how to lead from values and integrity." —Louise Slater, chairman of the board Consolidated Systems, Inc.

"Having spent several years on the staff at West Point contemplating the development of leaders of character, I find in The Ascent of a Leader a powerfully insightful, honest, and encouraging model for practice by leaders who genuinely seek to grow in character and in the impact for good that such leadership makes possible." —Larry Donnithorne, author, The West Point Way of Leadership: From Fostering Principled Leadership to Practicing It

"Successful leadership is a spiritual journey. In these inspiring pages, you will find a rare map for your soul, a map that can help you negotiate the thrills, risks, and lonely moments we all visit as leaders. You may also discover a yearning to share this map and journey with emerging leaders of the next generation." —Karen Brugler, manager, Health Care Consulting Practice, Ernst & Young, LLP

"This book, written from the experiences of three gifted leaders, gives practical suggestions of how one can climb the character ladder, the ladder of self discovery, each of which draws one to his or her true self." —Tom Phillips, president, International Students, Inc.

"We live at a time in history when there is a pronounced vacuum in leadership. Our need is for clear, inspiring, and above all timeless teaching on the subject of leadership. The Ascent of a Leader powerfully provides us with all these and more." —Michael Card, best-selling composer, author, teacher

"As each chapter unfolded, I found myself desiring the next. If you want to be prepared for a meaningful leadership opportunity when it arrives, then this book is for you." —Karsten Louis Solheim, executive vice president, Karsten Manufacturing Corporation

"The Ascent of a Leader addresses the two most important questions leaders-actually anyone-must answer if their lives and work are to have meaning: Who are you? And who cares? Character shapes cultures and culture nourishes character. Who you are makes a difference." —Walter C. Wright Jr., president, Regent College

"My job of training young managers for The Weather Channel during its startup would have been much easier if this resource had been available. It will also spark a renaissance for senior managers who may have forgotten how or why they climbed the ladder." —Hugh Eaton, startup business manager, The Weather Channel

"The Ascent of a Leader shows how character is a lifelong building process between God and yourself that then translates into leadership." —Karl Eller, chairman, Eller Media Company

"Superb, a must-read for everyone who would lead others with God's help by developing extraordinary character." —Robert A. Fulton, chairman and chief executive officer, Web Industries, Inc.

"In this remarkable and helpful book, the authors carefully and clearly help us to understand that leaders are made, not necessarily born. Anyone who aspires to leadership-young or old, male or female-will be helped immensely by this significant publication." —Ted W. Engstrom, president emeritus, World Vision

"Truth has a way of drawing us into a clearer sense of purpose and identity. This book gets beyond the cheap routes to "success" with engaging stories which highlight enduring principles of leadership throughout the ages. A must read for all who desire to bring life and hope to others...and themselves." —Robert C. Andringa, president, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities