Taking in Strays: Leadership Lessons from Unexpected Places

A multitude of business books provide motivational or inspirational guidance to help people improve their lives as well as their business performance. Typically, these self-help guides profile famous or successful people who have overcome obstacles in their lives—providing a point of comparison the reader can use to identify their own challenges.

But in her new book, “Taking in Strays: Leadership Lessons From Unexpected Places,” Lisa Harrington, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at the International Risk Management Institute, Inc. (IRMI), offers a different perspective, sharing lessons learned from adopting rescue animals and welcoming them into the home she shares in Southlake, Texas with her husband Paul. In a new take on the business self-help genre, Harrington uses her unique perspective to share leadership insights that “focus on our shared basic humanity,” says Laura Mazzuca Toops, editor, American Agent & Broker.

You might wonder how comparable rescuing animals is to managing people. But as you read through Harrington’s various vignettes, it becomes apparent that the elements of building trust, understanding unique needs and personalities, and positively influencing change among rescue animals share many parallels with achieving the same outcomes in the workplace—and in human relationships in general.

Throughout the book, Harrington includes references to behavioral studies and management techniques to keep her insights from becoming too abstract. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a cat or dog person—Harrington provides examples about both species, as well as birds and horses.

It’s obvious that Harrington is passionate about helping animals. But she’s also able to dig through her multitude of rescue experiences to find relevant examples that apply to everyday life. Whether you’re interested in improving your management or relationship skills or you’re just looking for an enjoyable read, “Taking in Strays” will accomplish both goals in a clever, inspiring way.

In her role at IRMI, Harrington develops content on leadership, management and insurance. Previously, she served as COO and acting CEO of the Network of Vertafore Users and spent more than 10 years as vice president of education for the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. Since beginning her insurance career in 1983, Harrington has contributed her expertise to a variety of roles, including education, writing/editing, underwriting, sales and agency operations. She is also founder of Sapphire Enterprises LLC, where she provides keynote presentations on leadership topics.

Dave Evans is president of 401(k) Sleuth.