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Book Review: Leadership by Storytelling


Leadership by Storytelling: The Best Way to Learn Good Leadership Skills, by Dr. Tom DePaoli, is the latest in a long line of books that are firmly based in reality and provide advice that is easy to put into practice. I’ve read and reviewed many of Dr. Toms’ books and you won’t find the same kind of time-tested, easy to read books from many other authors in our field. If you find yourself thinking that most procurement books seem too academic, he may just be your new favorite author.

In this latest book, Dr. Tom focuses on the importance of developing leadership skills by leveraging storytelling, a practice he employs in the book. He shares many of the best leadership experiences from his career and clearly points out the lesson to be learned from each one.

Here are my favorites:

“As a leader, if someone has a problem and needs help, especially when it is personal or family related, go out of your way to help them.”

All of the management training in the world won’t prepare you to deal with people like a human. Goals and objectives notwithstanding, none of our work means anything in the grand scheme of things. When ‘life happens’, colleagues are often asked to step up and fill the gap. Try to take a big picture approach to these situations. After all, better to be picking up someone else’s slack at work than to be dealing with a family crisis at home.


“Never neglect details. Walk the process. Do it yourself to learn how to do it.”

This is something I try to do on a regular basis with the Buyers Meeting Point site. No one is going to tell you if your site or process is broken. They just aren’t going to come back. But it is also a lesson that procurement can learn from internally. As self-guided buying becomes more prevalent, for instance, we can not make the mistake of setting it and forgetting it. We need to be using those sites and processes on a regular basis AND also collecting feedback directly from internal customers and users.


“Take an interest in people, not toys, technology or hardware.”

Digital transformation may be here today, gone tomorrow. Despite what you’re hearing about automation and digitalization, it is the people and the processes that make the greatest difference. That isn’t an altruistic recommendation to put people first in all things. It is a reminder to remember that there are efficiencies to be gained and insight to be harvested from the people around you. Allow yourself the time and opportunity to benefit from it.  

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