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Article first published as Book Review: ‘Unlocked’ by Robert S. Murray on Blogcritics.

November 4, 2014

Unlocked:
Finding the Key to Practical Leadership
Robert Murray
Aviva Publishing (2014)
ISBN: 9780987955357

New Book Provides Priceless Advice for Cultivating Practical Leadership

Unlocked: Finding the Key to Practical Leadership by Robert S. MurrayIn his first book, It’s Already Inside, Robert Murray won over his readers with his entertaining stories to illustrate his valuable points about leadership. Now he’s back with another winning new book: Unlocked: Finding the Key to Practical Leadership.

I love that Murray specifies that this book is about “practical” leadership because a lot of books out there talk about leaders, but he boils down his topic to simple, realistic, and practical examples, often illustrated by entertaining stories. A real benefit of this book is its easy-to-read and accessible format of fifty-one short chapters that will allow anyone who aspires to being a practical and good leader to spend five minutes a day reading a daily chapter and then contemplating it before moving on to the next one. Of course, you can read the entire book in one sitting, but I think Murray’s wisdom and advice is so valuable that readers will want to let it sink into their brains gradually, reading a little of the book every day, and even re-reading it to experience its full value. For me, this short chapter format makes Unlocked the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff of leadership books.

Robert Murray knows a lot about leadership, and that he presents it in digestible nuggets just shows how good he is at conveying that knowledge. He is himself a self-described “turn around mercenary” for businesses. That means companies hire him on a consulting basis to come in when they have problems and they need help getting their companies back on track and moving toward success. And at the heart of any possibility for a business to turn around is the need for qualified and successful leaders. That’s where practical leadership comes in.

A lot of the information in Unlocked may seem like just plain common sense, and many other authors have discussed several of the big topics Murray covers like sales, technology, and the importance of planning. The difference is that Murray has a way of turning a phrase to make us remember the information. He tells a good story, he isn’t above a little self-deprecating humor, and he is genuine on every page.

Here are just a couple of my favorite lines from the book:

“Sales, though, is the oldest profession in the world. Some of you may suggest there is something else said to be older; however, I would suggest that a sale had to be negotiated first.”

“Some people will say to me, ‘I didn’t do any planning.’ I say, ‘Exactly! Imagine what would have happened if you had a plan.’”

And then there are the rather bizarrely phrased chapter titles and expressions, such as the “mango threat.” Trust me, there really is a mango threat, and Murray tells us exactly what it is and why we need to be prepared for it. There are also some seemingly outlandish stories, such as when Murray decided to try cryotherapy—no, it’s not about crying, although I think I would have cried if I had tried it—it actually involves wearing your bathing suit and taking the opposite of a sauna—going from one cold room into a colder one until you’re experiencing subzero temperatures and—well, I’ll let him explain what the point of that one is. But being from a cold climate myself, I could definitely relate.

Oh, and then, there was the time Murray was detained in the Hong Kong airport as a suspected terrorist.... No, he’s not writing this book from inside a prison—that’s not what the Unlocked title is about.

The title is about finding the practical leader inside you, and that requires a lot of knowledge and self-awareness. Murray walks us through tons of practical applications that will allow the reader, like the U.S. Navy Seals, to “Earn your trident every day.”

Being a practical leader is about knowing when to disconnect from technology, and realizing that everyone is in sales and in customer service. It’s about living by your values and connecting with your team. It’s about having consistent and replicable processes in your company. It’s about hiring people for their attitudes, not their skills, because you can train them on the skills later. And ultimately, it’s about striving to be great. As Murray tells us, “Being great is actually relatively easy because there is not a lot of competition. All it takes is figuring out what your greatness is and paying attention to every single little detail in the delivery of that greatness so it is flawless every single time!”

The need then, Murray reminds us, is to ask yourself: “Do I want to be great? Do I have what it takes to be a practical leader?” The answer lies inside you.

But how do you access the answer without the key? The key is this book. Read it and step into your personal power as a practical leader. Then watch yourself and the world around you begin to change.

For more information about Robert Murray and Unlocked, visit www.Robert-Murray.com.

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., and award-winning author of The Best Place and Arthur’s Legacy

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