Picture Yourself a Leader by Elisabeth Swan

Book description from the publisher.

Picture Yourself a Leader is a problem solver’s guidebook that reveals common human stumbles and offers a hand to lift you up with engaging, illustrated vignettes of personal and professional experiences. Hone your leadership skills by recognizing your growth opportunities and be inspired to not just face them but overcome them while learning from others who have been there and persevered.

With decades of leadership lessons from the field, Elisabeth Swan uses her storytelling and illustration skills to bring her own missteps—and the stumbles of others—to life. Having shared each adventure with her professional community, she adds select insights to each lesson, and challenges readers to experiment with their own habits.

The book makes clear that the word leader can mean many things. Leaders aren’t necessarily associated with a slot on an organizational chart. Leading a life, family, or work team makes you a leader, and you can lead from anywhere. There are influential problem solvers who may not consider themselves leaders, yet they are. And there are leaders who don’t see that problem solving is their primary purpose, but it is.

Elisabeth’s collection of insights, challenges and opportunities offers invaluable guidance on how to work with others more effectively while illuminating how we influence others—knowingly or not. Each chapter invites the reader to recognize themselves and their potential as leaders regardless of whether it’s in their personal life or at work. The book provides pathways to help leaders pave better avenues for themselves, and with each challenge, Elisabeth adds curated advice and experience from leaders, authors, practitioners, and experts, broadening the conversation by adding alternative viewpoints, lived experience, and potential solutions.

Structured as an informal guide, the micro-lessons offer practical ways to improve how we think and act, with prompts for readers to consider in bite-sized portions.

Unlike other leadership and problem-solving books, Picture Yourself a Leader offers a welcomed departure from mainstream literature with its use of illustrations that the brain recognizes tens of thousands of times faster than text. Each story provides a quick exploration of a recognizable foible, showcasing the reality that we are all flawed human beings trying to be our best selves, falling into intangible potholes as we work with other people.

Expect to explore topics such as:

The book’s origins are rooted in structured problem solving.

Drawing on the problem-solving format of Continuous Improvement, Operational Excellence, Toyota Kata, Lean, and Six Sigma, this book applies the underpinnings of these methods to solving leadership issues. Regardless of the title, the approaches are grounded in systematic observation and experimentation to solve complex issues or achieve objectives when the solution is unknown.

Drawing on the problem-solving format makes it easy for readers to test new behaviors, adjust them, and then hone what works best. It’s a low-risk way for people to get the most out of themselves. Whether you approach it with structure or not—and regardless of the label—problem solving is something every human being engages in on some level every day.

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