Leadership Lessons from Downtown Abbey

6 December 2018

Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey
By Jeanne Martinson and Laurelie Martinson
Review by Michelle Shaw
Wood Dragon Books
$22 ISBN 9780995334281

Whether you’re an avid Downton Abbey fan or not, Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey is a great introduction to the world of leadership and management and offers a handy overview of key leadership principles and management strategies.

Regina-based sisters Jeanne and Laurelie Martinson, both recognized leaders in their fields, use characters and situations from the hit British TV series Downton Abbey to illustrate leadership principles and management strategies. “British estates, as characterized by Downton Abbey, represent one of the largest business models of their time,” the authors point out. “Their structure influenced what would become our traditional, hierarchical, business model with executive, senior and middle layers of management.“ The authors present a compelling Organizational Structure at the beginning of the book divided into Executive Management (Lord and Lady Grantham, Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley); Senior Management (Mr Carson, Mrs Hughes, Mrs Patmore, Dr Clarkson and Mr Branson) and Middle Management. It’s fascinating to see the familiar characters in the context of an organization.

The authors are quick to point out however that Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey is not a comprehensive volume of leadership theory nor … an academic guide on management [but rather] a lighthearted discussion of basic principles and strategies that lay the foundation for organizational success and career fulfilment.”

I loved Downton Abbey so for me the book was a delight. It’s practical and easy to read and makes sense of sometimes complex issues. I also appreciated the fact that the book draws on additional research related to the various topics. These references provide a great additional resource for readers who want to dig in more deeply.

The book is divided into four sections: Leading Yourself, Leading Employees, Leading Culture and Leading with Others. Chapters include Strengthening Mentorship, Discerning Motivation, Maintaining Accountability and Respecting Boundaries.

Jeanne Martinson is a best-selling Canadian author, researcher and professional speaker on topics related to creating and leading demographically diverse workplaces. She has ten books in print, including Generation Y and the New Ethic and Escape from Oz – Leadership for the 21st Century.

Laurelie Martinson is a management communications specialist who works with organizational cultures undergoing change and suffering from dysfunctional relationships. She has 25 years’ experience working for industry, government and community agencies throughout western Canada.

The second book in the series, Change Management Lessons from Downton Abbey, was released in the Spring of 2018 and the third book, Relationship Lessons from Downton Abbey, was released in the Fall of 2018.


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