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Staff Pick: View from the Top

Name: Nurul Humaira Kamarulzaman
Book: View from the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See & Shape the World
Author: D. Michael Lindsay, with M.G Hager
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey 
Publication Year: 2014
Book Language: English


View from the Top brings readers inside the corridors of power and relates the personal stories and powerful findings from the Platinum Study, a ground-breaking study of 550 elite American CEOs, senior government leaders, and non-profit executives based on ten years of research. The largest study of its kind, the Platinum Study delves into the domains of the elite with stories that illustrate both the use and misuse of power across the landscape of prominent American institutions such as AT&T, Harvard University, UnderArmour, JP Morgan Chase, Bain & Company, and the White House. The book explores not only how leaders wield power, but it also provides readers with insight into applying the strategies of the successful in their own lives.

In the United States, only a few thousand individuals make the decisions that influence the lives of over 300 million people. Whether in the government, business, higher education, or the arts, these individuals direct policy and set the terms of national debates, yet remain virtually unknown. View from the Top explores the real lives of the elite and the social worlds they inhabit, revealing lessons about influence at the top, and the seven principles that shape those in power. The results of the Platinum Study include unexpected truths such as:

  • Being born into wealth is a poor predictor of leadership success
  • One program can set you on the path to leadership
  • It doesn’t matter what college you attend
  • A leader’s best work never sees the light of day
  • Time-crushed executives are better situated than most to manage their family lives
  • Crisis is the quickest way for a leader to shape an institution
  • Working longer does not mean working better

The book examines the different paths to power and describes the essence of leadership and the fundamental traits that distinguish a leader from the pack. For anyone seeking sharpen their leadership skills and impact the world around them, View from the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World provides the roadmap to taking charge and inspiring change


“Leaders are not born, they are made.”

The author, D. Michael Lindsay, is the President of Gordon College and a sociologist. Dr. Lindsay summarises the results of a decade-long leadership study that covers over 500 influential American leaders such as Stephen Baldwin, actor; George H.W Bush, President of the United States; Jose Zeilstra, VP of Global Finance, JP Morgan Chase; David Neuman, President, Walt Disney, and Jack Nicklaus, professional golfer.

Each chapter in the book is a summary of an idea followed by numerous responses and examples from leaders ranging from non-profit CEOs to difference makers in the halls of the White House and Congress. It was incredibly interesting and insightful to hear all these experiences and stories, and the author did a wonderful job in telling the leaders’ stories and how they became successful.

I would like to recommend this book to those who are curious as to the “ingredients” of success and want an accessible as well as inspiring read to chart their own leadership journey. While the leaders featured in this book are American, the author draws principles that can be applied universally to aspiring leaders anywhere.


“The people we know, the events we experience, and the places we visit leave an immeasurable impression on us and, in turn, on what we contribute to the world. So, it should come as no surprise that platinum leaders’ greatest contributions to society are highly influenced by their personal histories, inherent motivations, and private influences.” (Page 117)

“Sometimes the prestige a leader lends to an organisation is more valuable than whatever she can give to it financially. Money can go far, but a leader’s reputation can have a multiplicative effect of attracting attention and funding from additional sources.” (Page 128)

“Head of organisations are not only required to be leaders and managers but, as one university president described her job. “You’ve got to be a mayor; you’ve you’ve got to be a scholar.”. So the mantle of leadership is not only heavy,it comes with about a thousand hats.” (Page, 59)

“Leaders need to know how to wield their authority in a way that motivates their employees. In the words of one businessman, ” You can’t effective technically as a leader until you’re effective relationally, because we are too interdependent.”  (Page 63)

This book is available at the Perdana Library. If you are interested in reading or borrowing the book, please visit our Library here at Putrajaya, or contact us 03-88858961 (Library Counter).