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Final E-Book in Ultimate Upgrade Essentials Series Explores the Cost of Leadership

By Paul Lief Rosengren

In his fifth and final e-book of The Ultimate Upgrade Essentials series, Book 5: The Cost of Leadership, Dr. Terence Yeoh pulls together thoughts on leadership and careers that are built on many of his ideas covered in his first four e-books. Yeoh explores the ideal leader, going beyond technical strengths, the dynamics of persuasion, and even the challenges of leaving leadership through retirement. As in several of his past books, he draws lessons from his career — and from his beloved Mustang — served with a healthy helping of spirituality.

Observing leaders, Yeoh asserts that leadership is “a state of being, and not a title or position.” He outlines various types of leaders: those who lead by example, those who nurture others to eventually take their place, and “sacrificial leaders.” The author defines sacrificial leaders as those as willing to sacrifice and put themselves at risk, so that others have a better chance to succeed.

Yeoh feels such sacrifice is especially valuable during late-career mentoring, when by giving of themselves, mentors can help mentees achieve greater success than the mentors themselves. He argues that sacrificial leadership is one we rarely see, but is easy to understand. The author likens sacrificing one’s future for the next generation is the very essence of parenting. Yeoh believes despite many hours spent and hard efforts put in at work — at the end of their careers, many leaders’ greatest satisfaction at the office came from a sense of “family.”

Differentiating between managers and leaders, Yeoh writes that a manager’s role is to maintain status quo; to get the job done, with minimal disruption or drama. In contrast, a leader is disruptive and must “develop a path forward in uncharted areas.” The author asks the reader to imagine the case where an individual is both a leader and a manager, a person he feels can be either a “terrible combination of opposing views, or an incredible combination of vision, insight and ability.”

In the e-book, Yeoh discusses the art of persuasion; and that there is something inherent in people that draws them to leaders — convincing individuals to give up a piece of their autonomy to help achieve a greater purpose.

Yeoh ends his discussions about leadership by examining how hard it is for leaders to retire. After overcoming challenges, going from success to success, and leading people, he feels it is not surprising that leaders have difficulty with a rapid “descent back into obscurity.”

Yeoh points out that many good things are gradual (e.g., planting a garden, raising a child, fishing), but many bad things are sudden — like death and retirement. Yeoh notes that retirement statistics are not good, with a high death rate following soon after people retire. He believes we should “think more about this life-changing event, understand it, and formulate a future.” In part, his advice is to “recognize that leadership is a role, not an identity.”

The Ultimate Upgrade Essentials Book 5: The Cost of Leadership is available for free for IEEE members at IEEE-USA’s online shop, as are the first four books in the Ultimate Upgrade Essentials series. Non-members can download the books for $2.99 each. The series is based on the YouTube series, Yeoh On The GO.

An IEEE Senior Member, Dr. Terence Yeoh has been a technical and career development contributor to IEEE since 1999. He has held a variety of career roles in systems engineering, R&D portfolio management, program management and corporate strategy. Yeoh holds eleven patents in such areas as infrared microscopy, compressive sensing, and artificial intelligence. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, writing code, and driving his Mustang.


Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul is the coauthor of In the Time of Covid: One Hospital's Struggles and Triumphs. He worked for more than three decades in corporate communications at NBC, PSE&G, BD and in state government. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from The Kennedy School of Government, Harvard; and an undergraduate degree in political science from Dickinson College.

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