Foreword Reviews

The Entrepreneur's Apprentice

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

An employee-cum-business owner utilizes his personal challenges to present an impressive new model for employee motivation.

In The Entrepreneur’s Apprentice, Don Darvill describes an employee development system that he devised as an outgrowth of a life-altering diagnosis.

There is no shortage of business books that discuss employee motivation, but it is probably fair to say that few others, if any, have been written as a result of an author’s mental condition. This unique circumstance is what makes Darvill’s book highly unusual and compelling.

A longtime McDonald’s employee who rose through the ranks, Darvill was stunned when he was diagnosed with a severe case of bipolar disorder. The diagnosis led him to resign his position of more than twenty years, but interestingly, it also led to a subsequent opportunity to be the owner/operator of a McDonald’s franchise. At that restaurant, Darvill put into practice “Quadrant Leadership,” an employee development system he created. “There is no doubt in my mind that had there been no bipolar disorder; there would have been no Quadrant Leadership,” writes Darvill. “From personal tragedy came a remarkable discovery.”

Darvill tells his story through several autobiographical anecdotes, including a sobering description of his reaction to the diagnosis. Early portions of The Entrepreneur’s Apprentice are very personal, veering toward memoir more than business advice. This is not a negative, however; the author’s ability to reveal his innermost thoughts adds a human element to the book.

The bulk of the book is devoted to a detailed discussion of the concept and implementation of Quadrant Leadership, which is comprised of four quadrants: Trainer/Expert, Teacher/Philosopher, Observer/Coach, and Mentor/Advisor.

One of the key questions about Quadrant Leadership is whether a leader will make the commitment necessary to implement it. Darvill’s methodology requires a serious effort, including recording one’s time and analyzing tasks. For some, the process may seem overly detailed and even ponderous. Darvill suggests, for example, that there should be “three levels of certification” for employees; this may be too ambitious for some managers to implement.

Despite the overabundance of detail in the book, the concept of Quadrant Leadership seems sound. There is much to be admired about a comprehensive model that focuses on employee efficiency and productivity, encourages working in teams, and rewards individual responsibility. In addition, Darvill shares some interesting concepts that have real merit, such as replacing meetings with “power briefings,” an idea certainly worthy of consideration.

Darvill writes with honesty and passion. He expresses himself well, and is unwavering in his belief that Quadrant Leadership will turn all employees into leaders in their own right. For leaders willing to make the effort, the Quadrant Leadership model featured in The Entrepreneur’s Apprentice may be an effective way to get employees to excel.

Reviewed by Barry Silverstein

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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