House Rules: Five Questions with Larry James

Larry James and book jacket


New book by CitySquare executive director offers insight on leadership

Rev. Larry James has provided executive leadership since joining CitySquare in 1994. In his newest book, House Rules, James shares essential, on-the-ground leadership principles for environments as diverse as board rooms, public housing developments, hunger relief efforts and donor cultivation. In an accessible and conversational style, he examines practical, instructive case studies and offers principled guidance for leaders in any management setting that calls for execution and action.

How did you come up with the premise for House Rules?

House Rules is the product of over four decades of service in leadership positions. The book is an attempt to identify leadership insights that I’ve gleaned across the years. The principles treated in the book are time-tested. The book seeks to make the case for the importance of cherishing people and relationships. The ideas contained in the book are informed by my faith, but apply in any sector. 

Was there – or perhaps is there – a void in leadership capacity that you particular wanted to address?

Not so much a “void,” but rather a lack of appreciation for counterintuitive approaches to motivating, inspiring and leading people/teams to accomplish agreed upon mission while being open to new delight and discovery. 

How have you seen the process of leadership development evolve?

I suppose everyone who studies leadership has been influenced by the work of Robert K. Greenleaf (Servant Leadership). A move toward radically respect-based leadership is likely an expression of that variety of leadership. Loving people breeds a radical commitment to respecting people, which is the essence behind and in my work in House Rules

NTC: What are specific qualities you believe are essential to being a leader – regardless of organization?

See above! Then, turn to the table of contents of the book for summary words or phrases that begin to get at the qualities you are looking for.

NTC: How might all readers – clergy and laity – benefit from the lessons you offer in House Rules?

Anyone who works with people and who desires and expects an outcome or production from them can benefit from the book. Approaching life expecting to change things and/or move people qualifies anyone as a leader. My not so new ideas may provide material for honest and productive reflection by anyone set on or called to being an effective leader. 

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Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2018