I have long been a fan of Dr. John Townsend with my first exposure being his earliest collaborations with Dr. Henry Cloud. As well as being a New York Times Best Selling author and highly respected psychologist, Dr. Townsend is also the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling.
Many readers will be very familiar with his blockbuster hit (over 3 million copies sold!), Boundaries, co-authored with Dr. Cloud, which has since spun off into various other Boundaries In… type books. I also loved their later followup, Safe People. Now Dr. Townsend is back with a new book focused on helping leaders most effectively utilize one of their most valuable resources — the people around them. While his primary focus may initially appear to be church leaders or those leading nonprofit organizations, I think there is valuable content applicable to all organizational leaders today.
People Fuel: Fill Your Tank for Life, Love and Leadership is a practical, relaxed read with a myriad of stories and clinical advice to help professionals recognize and leverage the value that relationships bring to the successful leader. “People are the fuel we need to grow, be healthy and prosper,” Townsend explains. “… we need to know what we need, recognize who can supply it, and have the skills to get it.” He explains that leaders can contribute to greater energy in the workplace, or can drain the energy of those around us. His Four Quadrants of Relational Nutrients helps organize the characteristics leaders can use to help fortify their workers in ways similar to that of vitamins for physical vitality. (See the interview clip below for his discussion of this.)
These same nutrients that the best leaders provide to their employees are nutrients that they need themselves in order to not become drained and burned out in their roles. In Part 3 of his book, Townsend turns the focus to seven commons types of people who can help provide the vital relational nutrients to leaders: Coaches, Comrades, Casuals, Colleagues, Care, Chronics and Contaminants. (Hint: The last two categories are more groups to watch out for!)
Summing up: Whether we have formal leadership roles in our organizations, all of us have leadership aspects in the various roles of our daily life. Dr. Townsend offers valuable guidance in the area of relationships and the vital part they play on our inner health and outward effectiveness. I loved his book. I hope you do too.