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Phoenix Forward magazine

We can be heroes: A new book explains how

Richard Schuttler

In high school, Richard Schuttler, PhD, got some advice from a history teacher that changed his life. Schuttler was planning to join the U.S. Navy but started waffling when his peers gave him a hard time.

“My teacher pulled me aside and said, ‘Don’t let other kids influence your decision. If you’ve made a choice that’s good for your life, you’ve got to follow your own path, and don’t worry about what anyone else says.’”

Schuttler, who lost his father when he was 10, never forgot that critical moment of mentoring.

“I’ve followed that same advice everywhere in my life,” he says. “Whenever I find something I want to do, I stick with it, and it works.”

After a 23-year career in the Navy, followed by many years instructing in the doctoral organizational leadership program at University of Phoenix, Schuttler compiled a book that celebrates everyday mentors and leaders.

I want people to be able to read this book and come away knowing better how to be a hero in someone else’s life.

Everyday Leader Heroes: 10 Leadership Characteristics in Everyday People” (Caboodle, 2013) pays tribute to the often overlooked leaders in people’s live — whether they’re teachers, relatives or next-door neighbors — who come along at a critical time to give people direction and set them on a clear path for the better.

The “hero” project started as a labor of love, as Schuttler resolved to understand the qualities that make up what he calls a leader hero. First, he determined the most popular traits of leaders by polling his students and hundreds of others who attended his public speaking engagements.

The resulting book, written to be a teaching tool, contains vivid accounts of people from all walks of life (one contributor is a survivor from war-torn Croatia; another is a father who instilled a love of music in his son) who often don’t even realize they’re acting like heroes.

Schuttler hopes to inspire others to follow their lead. “The people I’m writing this book for are the frontline supervisors or midlevel managers who really want to move their careers ahead but don’t understand what it means to be a good leader yet,” he says, “because you can read about leadership theory, but that doesn’t really teach you how to behave [in the moment].”

By absorbing the stories of leader heroes, readers will learn what it takes to lead, Schuttler believes. “The world needs more selfless heroes,” he says. “I want people to be able to read this book and come away knowing better how to be a hero in someone else’s life.”

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