Learning to Lead


Ron Williams

Learning to Lead by Ron Williams is a book that should be on every professional’s physical or electronic bookshelf.  This primer is divided into three parts which offers every professional – whether she desires to be a leader or individual contributor – pertinent information on how to approach her career.  In Part 1, Leading yourself, Williams suggests readers take initiative to better understand who they are, what they want to do and, perhaps more importantly, what they don’t want to do.  This section also helps people reframe their thinking (particularly as to how they view themselves) and encourages them to be viewed as the individual willing to take on the tough assignment.  Williams is likely not be aware how his “assume positive intent” mantra has found its way across the health insurance industry as former Aetna employees have brought this value with them to other employers.

For professionals who do want to become people leaders, Part 2 provides a wealth of practical information such as getting to the truth by asking the right questions, understanding important versus urgent matters, and building a high performing team.  Williams’ “Two up, Two down” system is an effective tool for staying in touch with what is really happening within an organization.  Part 3 offers a glimpse into the role of the CEO and what it takes to get and stay there. 

Anyone who knows Williams will hear his steady, calming voice throughout the book as he freely shares his wisdom.  As a colleague in the same industry, I was easily able to reconcile Williams words with his actions.  Williams has mentored and shaped the career of many individuals including several females who are now CEOs at other organizations. 

No matter where you are in your career, Williams’ advice will resonate.  I also recommend that this book be shared with individuals who are jus starting their careers.  If I had the benefit of Williams’s wisdom from the start, I would have saved myself and others the pains of making the mistakes of a young leader.  This book will be on my recommendation list for those next generation leaders who want to take on the world.