Book Club for the New Administration - August 2017

The Constitution So, this past month we were reading The Constitution of the United States of America.  Did you discover anything surprising?  Or did you just watch the School House Rock video over and over and sing the Preamble in your sleep?  Both are okay.  That catchy little tune is an easy-to-carry reminder what America's principles are supposed to be.

Which leads me to this:  I heard a description on the radio the other day about our current and last president as being "transactional" versus "ideological."  In business-speak, leaders are described as "transactional" or "transformational."  According to this article on

Transactional leaders are concerned about the status quo, while transformational leaders are more change-oriented.

Comparing Leadership Types

Transactional and transformational leadership exhibit five key differences:

  1. Transactional leadership reacts to problems as they arise, whereas transformational leadership is more likely to address issues before they become problematic.
  2. Transactional leaders work within existing an organizational culture, while transformational leaders emphasize new ideas and thereby "transform" organizational culture.
  3. Transactional leaders reward and punish in traditional ways according to organizational standards; transformational leaders attempt to achieve positive results from employees by keeping them invested in projects, leading to an internal, high-order reward system.
  4. Transactional leaders appeal to the self-interest of employees who seek out rewards for themselves, in contrast to transformational leaders, who appeal to group interests and notions of organizational success.
  5. Transactional leadership is more akin to the common notions of management, whereas transformational leadership adheres more closely to what is colloquially referred to as leadership.

I love that last line "what is colloquially referred to as leadership."  This is simply an informative article, but you can practically hear the air quotes around "leadership"  If "leadership" is reduced to a colloquialism, what does that mean for the world?  Still, based on this definition, I think the new administration is neither fish nor fowl.  It seems transactional in nature, but also wants to buck the existing culture.  Again, where does that leave us?

Okay, that's enough political musing for today.  August is upon us, which means back to school, back to work if you've taken a vacation, and a lot of commercials about fall clothing even though it's 100 degrees outside.  What to read in such a climate, when the dog days of summer have us slogging along, and the overwhelming news cycle has made even most active of activists want to lay down their signs and take a nap?

We're going simple again, folks.  And for good reason.

The Book Club for the New Administration Selection for August is:


Synopsis:  Horton is back.  After his first appearance in Horton Hatches the Egg, everyone's favorite elephant returns in this timeless, moving, and comical classic in which we discover that "a person's a person, no matter how small." Thanks to the irrepressible rhymes and eye-catching illustrations, young readers will learn kindness and perseverance (as well as the importance of a good "Yopp") from the very determined--and very endearing--Horton the elephant.

Let's hit close to home.  If you don't own it already, why not order your copy Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.?  Years ago this store merged with my favorite childhood bookstore, the Cheshire Cat which had a separate, tiny door for kids.  It was Narnia to me as a grade school kid.  Let's show them some love.  And, if you have the book already, please consider buying a new copy to donate to a local library or children's charity.

So, why another picture book?  Because we can all read them easily.  I want you to go enjoy the rest of your summer, and still have something to think about.  Why this book?  Because it's for the administration and for the citizen.  It emphasizes the importance of listening to the little people, and it tells us each that we have a voice, that we all matter.   The President could learn a thing or two by listening.  Heck, the entire government could learn by listening.  And we need to keep speaking up.  Even if you are too tired to shout, if we speak up all together, we can still be heard.

Thanks for making it to August, folks!  If you have suggestions for the coming months, please send them my way.  Email me via this site, or tweet me @Sherri_L_Smith #bookclub4newadmin.