With regard to leadership, people have passed down wisdom through storytelling for many generations. In Fables for Leaders, John Lubans brings together fables from several traditions with thoughtful commentary to help readers identify new ways to approach the modern workplace. Lubans mines the work of fabulists Abstemius, Aesop, La Fontaine, and Odo of Cheriton. Many of these fables will be familiar to readers, but what makes them come alive is their application to office politics, organizations, strategic thinking, and effective leading and following. Lubans adds a few of his own fables and intersperses the whole with commentary, space for personal musings, and delightful illustrations by Béatrice Coron to create a book that can be reread often for new insights. BookBaby, 2017. 220 P. $19.99. PBK. 978-0-692-90955-3.
A “Reviewer's Choice” at Midwest Book Review (MBR) December, 2017
“A unique and exceptional approach to developing problem solving attitudes and skills, "Fables for Leaders" is impressively well written, organized and presented. Thoroughly 'user friendly' and an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Fables for Leaders" is impressively entertaining, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.”
Reviewed by Angie Gallion Lovell:
By nature I am a fan of fables, fairytales, and legends so when I came across John Lubans' Fables for Leaders, there was no way I could pass it by. The book is segmented into chapters which are then subdivided further. For example, in the chapter titled The Effective Follower, one of the sections is titled “Are You Leading or Am I Following?” and
that subsection has three fables pertinent to that concept. The individual fables are further segmented by the retelling of the fable, followed by the accepted interpretation with an analysis of how the fable applies to modern business, and closes often with a tagline gleaned by the author. The organization of Fables for Leaders was creative and thoughtful. Beyond the organization, I loved the texture of the work. The illustrator is Beatrice Coron and her paper cut artwork is done black on white and it is intricately simple and elegant. The font used is calligraphic, which
added to the “timeworn” feel. The whole experience of reading the fables made me want a roaring fire and a cozy nook.
While Fables for Leaders is beautifully rendered and aesthetically pleasing, the real treasure is found in the hints of wisdom John Lubans reminds us of. We’ve all heard the tale of The Grasshopper and The Ant, certainly, where one saves for the winter and is prepared when bad weather comes, and the other who does not save for winter finds himself in dire straits because of it. What Lubans does, masterfully, is take the cliche and make it relevant for today,mand readily applicable for persons in leadership roles. There is great wisdom within these pages and the amazing
thing is that we all know it, but Lubans provides us with the next step to take this intrinsic knowledge, this long forgotten wisdom, and retool it for our current lives. He opens the door to us and explains how the fables we
learned at our mother’s knee were training us to live a most productive life. I want John Lubans' book, Fables for Leaders, for my own personal collection, and I want it printed on parchment.
Quite different from conventional leadership books, Fables for Leaders doesn't draw its lessons from formal research studies or insights from a gregarious figurehead, it doesn't contain any acronyms or frameworks, and you won't find a step-by-step guide to earning your next promotion. Instead, this self-proclaimed "anti-textbook" is simply a collection of fables and commentary centered around the idea that people have spent thousands of years learning from stories, and that those stories still have lessons for today. Within each chapter are several fables that Lubans relates to specific ideas or situations in the modern workplace. Covering everything from office politics to budgeting and strategic planning, this book is original, practical, and worthy of a spot on any leader's shelf.