The Clock Tower

An M3 Weekly Book Review

Good leadership is critical to a well-functioning enterprise, possibly even more so for those of us endeavoring to meet not one but three bottom lines.

While there are a host of good resources to help us develop and refine our leadership, the abundance of resources can be overwhelming.

The Clock Tower 1, by Antony Bell, is a short book that provides a creative, memorable, and clear presentation of a framework for leadership that helps put the entire leadership endeavor into perspective.

Written in the form of a fable, The Clock Tower presents the critical moment of crisis in the life of Richard, the leader of a business that had been passed from father to son through several generations and now stands on the brink of failure.

Richard is met by three mysterious figures with unusual names who live on the upper level of an old clock tower. These figures represent three critical elements of effective leadership. Using this narrative approach, Bell presents how competence in leadership comprises effective and appropriate execution of organizational, operational, and people leadership.

Bell’s approach is memorable and effective and similar to that of other books on leadership in the form of fictional narratives, such as those by Patrick Lencioni. Bell presents these leadership concepts in expanded form in his book Great Leadership. While one might be inclined to skip The Clock Tower and simply read Great Leadership alone, the books really complement each other, and we would encourage reading The Clock Tower as an introduction to Bell’s framework 2.

Bell points out at the end of the book, “Richard’s story is about competence, and competence in leadership . . . is not the only ingredient in great leadership.” This is an important caveat, and we welcome the hint that Bell might add a similar book addressing the aspect of character in leadership:

Competence is one wing of the aircraft – character is the other, which makes character every bit as important to great leadership as competence. But more of that another time – that’s the subject of another story.

We recommend Bell’s creative presentation of the leadership framework presented in The Clock Tower and are excited to be including this and other resources from Bell in our M3 Cohorts.

Verse of the Week:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 (NIV)

As followers of Jesus, we cannot follow the leadership customs of our culture. Let’s meditate this week on how leading without “exercising authority” will look different from the leadership patterns of the world.


1 We at US Navigators Missional Enterprise were provided a free copy of The Clock Tower, but the views in this review are solely our own.
2 A mention or recommendation of a resource in this e-newsletter does not necessarily constitute a complete endorsement of the content by US Navigators Missional Enterprise. However, we strongly believe that each resource we present contains a significant amount of helpful content in line with our vision and values, and we encourage you to read (or listen) for yourself and glean from it what the Lord has for you.

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