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Chess, Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  444 ratings  ·  88 reviews
As organizations grow in volume and complexity, the demands on leadership change. The same old moves won't cut it any more.
In Chess Not Checkers, Mark Miller tells the story of Blake Brown, newly appointed CEO of a company troubled by poor performance and low morale. Nothing Blake learned from his previous roles seems to help him deal with the issues he now faces. The prob
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published April 6th 2015 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  444 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Nick W.
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
A great, short book on leadership lessons told through the story of a new CEO. The mindset of envisioning a business as requiring chess strategy, not reactive checkers strategy is a powerful image. The main takeaways were:
1) Bet on Leadership - growing leaders grow the business
2) Act As One - alignment multiples impact
3) Win the Hearts - Engagement gets effort
4) Excel at Execution - Greatness hinges upon execution
Jeremy Duffle
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Simple book, extraordinary concept in leadership training!
Kimberly Duffle
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book of strategy in the workplace!
John E. Smith
Mark Miller is on a hot streak, which continues with this latest in his engaging series of leadership development books. Mark is one of the reasons why I now happily read "story" books about leadership and learning. While I prefer the hardcore textbook approach, Mark has a deft touch with dialogue, characterization, plot, and the use of analogy. All are on prominent display in this latest title in what I hope is a very prolific and long-running leadership series.

Using the game of chess as the co
Brando Menjivar
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It’s Not Checkers its Chess Book : (B-A-W-E) This review contains spoilers!!!

- Bet on Leadership - develop, invest, train, lead, and love your leadership team
- Act as One - get everyone on board with the purpose, the mission, and the core values of the organization. Those who are not on board 100% do not belong with this organization
- Win the Heart - develop their dreams, don’t extract value from them give them value, praise them, love them, encourage them, gain their trust, and give opportunit
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
An engaging read on what's needed to lead a business today. Some might find trite that the lessons were packaged as a story, but I thought it was well done.
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game by Mark Miller

I’ve been writing book reports since 2013 and am always pleased when Mark Miller writes a new book. He mixes the literary style of a novel with the solid foundation of leadership truths. His unique twist in telling a business story is a refreshing way to absorb the knowledge he shares. I got as far as the first sentence on the book cover and knew this book was another must-read. “An organizations grow in volume and complexity, the de
Andrew Pekios
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very quick read on organizational leadership. The book is presented as a fictional narrative of a new CEO who is learning the ropes of leading a struggling business. His mentor provided four tactics to help him view organizational leadership as chess instead of checkers.

The book is engaging and something you finish in a couple hours. If you are interested in leadership I would recommend the book.
Daryl Watts
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Similar to Lencioni, Miller uses a fictional story to illustrate. It makes the book a quick read. The concept boils down to four "moves" based on the chess motif foreshadowed in the title. I won't give them here so as to not deter one from buying the book.

Worth the time. A little pricey (though, in full disclosure, the author gave them out at a large meeting, so I can't complain), but the production quality is superb.
Wesley D Woods
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I thought the basic principles of this book were outstanding, however, the fictional story in which these principles were applied was a little too unrealistic for me. This made it somewhat difficult for me to read. I do feel like the book could have been condensed down to about 50 pages or less as well. Regardless, I think it’s worth the read for anyone who would have the desire to grow as a strategic leader.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny Evans
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 24-in-2017
This was a fabulous and super quick read! I love development with a story involved!!! Highly recommend this for leaders who need some focus and help with turning their teams into high performers! *read it with a highlighter...great for circling back on those amazing points you don't want to forget!
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short story about a new CEO. This is an easy read. The main take always are grow leaders, prepare them for the future by investing your time and investing in training. Communication help employees to be engaged. Great book.
Woods N.
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Much like the Energy Bus, this sort of parable should be read to fifth grade students. The book is an embarrassment to business publications and CEO recommendations that proclaim it worthy of one's time.
Parker Boyes
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
This is another one of those business books that presents information in the form of a made-up story (ie The Goal). The principles are pretty easy to understand right off the bat and the story doesn't add much but to repeat the original premise.

This book could be an infographic.
Lathan Craft
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book on organizational leadership. I love Miller’s writing style, he’s a storyteller, and the story flows smoothly throughout the pages.
Don Gochenour
The guidance and advice in this book isn't wrong, it's just so obvious it's hard to believe that so many people rate it 5 stars.
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Unique narrative style to deliberate leadership points. Narrative was a bit simple but truths were profound.
Rand Hall
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Lencioni fans might like it. Sorry, just don't get into the parable style.
Brian Heckber
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good insight

Through parable format, Miller hits 4 leadership concepts. While not all new material, it was insightful with powerful quotes throughout. Worth the short read.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: development
This book gives great insight to becoming and developing leaders.
Maria N
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another favorite book from Mark Miller. I will be referencing this one and three others through my career.
Hunter Leavine
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Written in classic fable form and an easy read. VERY helpful for strategic thinking.
David Smith
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great and easy read. Reminiscent of The Goal by Goldratt. Good application principles.
Mickey Carolan
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommendations
Quickest I have read a book in a while! I love the balance between a story you can visualize and education. I will be rereading this book with my pen to take notes.
Dawn Fielder
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Smooth easy read with a clear lesson.
Yahvé Solís
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Buen libro, muy adhoc al tema de liderazgo, tips y estrategias, así como una interesante comparativa sobre el ajedrez, las damas y el incesante juego de los negocios.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: qa, management
Very solid book about thinking strategically.
Chess not Checkers - Mark Miller

Ideas to help us grow as individuals:
• Create personal development plans
• Solicit feedback
• Accept stretch assignments
• Close critical skill gaps
• Find a coach or mentor

The more you can leverage the unique capabilities of each piece, the greater your chances of victory. When you deploy people thoughtfully, you create greater value.

pg 80 “when people are given the opportunity to do what they do best, you engage much more than their hands. When you allow peop
Jul 25, 2015 rated it liked it
In this teaching story, a new CEO realizes the org he's been hired to lead is a bit of a hot mess, so he finds a mentor to help him turn the company around. The basic idea is that companies should be pro-active rather than re-active. The former strategy is chess and the latter, checkers, per Miller.

It's a good metaphor, actually, for leading and managing people. If you're always putting out fires, the important stuff never gets done. Miller has a strategy he labels servant leadership, designed t
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Review 1 3 Mar 28, 2015 04:31AM  
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“When you see recurring problems, the methods you’ve used successfully in the past have to be reevaluated.” 2 likes
“If you want to build a high performance organization, you’ve got to play chess, not checkers.” 1 likes
More quotes…