Engage with Honor
FreedomStar Media (2016)
Reviewed by Josh Cramer for Reader Views (11/16)
If you are looking for a book to kick your butt (in a nice way) when it comes to your accountability to yourself and others, you must read “Engage with Honor” by Lee Ellis. A prisoner of war during Vietnam, Ellis gained a perspective for understanding our daily lives in a way that few others understand—if you truly want to be successful in both your professional and personal life, you must live a life of accountability. This is a life that requires impeccable character to accept responsibility for yourself and your people (whether it be your family at home or your team at work). It requires building a culture of accountability around you, knowing that you also need to be accountable to those above you. It requires collaboration and celebrations (or confrontations if necessary). What Ellis wants you to know is that no matter where you are right now, you can change starting today.
The book is broken into two major sections (with a separate introduction and epilogue). The first section provides the struggles society (and you) face every day in maintaining honor. The second section shows a model (the Courageous Accountability Model) for how you can build a culture that thrives on honor.
Each chapter can be divided into several pieces:
1. A short vignette of Ellis’s time in Vietnam. Each chapter moves chronologically (relatively) from his capture through to the end of the war when he and his fellow POWs were freed.
2. The chapter builds on the leadership concepts that Ellis learned from that experience, whether from what he or someone else did (or didn’t do).
3. Mission Prep. This section provides questions that will help you to apply the concepts from the chapter.
4. Video Clip. Ellis provides a link to a short online video clip where the author discusses the chapter’s main concept (these are worth the price of admission alone! I found these very helpful for reviewing the concepts of each chapter).
5. Foot Stomper. This is a summary of what the chapter was about. At the end of the book, he gathers these together for easy review. This is especially helpful if you are teaching the book to your team.
The absolute best part of the book is found in chapter eleven: Troubleshooting Accountability—Tips and FAQs. This chapter contains seven tips for leaders that will help to apply the concepts from the book. Following this are several really tough questions that Ellis explains using the Courageous Accountability Model. These questions range from questions about workplace gossip to having a team member who shows up consistently late to meetings, to a having a boss who doesn’t buy into the accountability mindset yet, to questions about applying these concepts to family life.
Ultimately, “Engage with Honor” by Lee Ellis is a compelling read and I found myself drawn again and again to the author’s stories about Vietnam. If you have read other books about accountability (The Question Behind the Question or the Oz Principle), there is nothing new here in that regard. What Ellis does differently is show the concepts in another way, and sometimes it takes hearing about a concept from a different voice to really understand it. Victor Frankl illustrates this point well: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” What will your response be?