Book review: “Leading the Way” by Steve Letarte with Nate Ryan

Steve Letarte probably could have written an entire book about leadership, motivation and team-building. But armed with a compelling story — his years as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief — Letarte and co-author Nate Ryan smoothy weave in leadership lessons instead of hitting readers over the head with them.

Letarte’s new book, Leading the Way, allows readers to go through his experiences and learn what to do — or what not to do — right along with him.

The crew-chief-turned-TV-analyst doesn’t try to make it out like everything he did was perfect. Quite the opposite, actually. He’s blunt about his missteps, but uses each one as even more of a lesson than the successes.

Business leaders — or those who attend Letarte’s speaking engagements — would find the book valuable. But it will also appeal to NASCAR fans (not just Junior Nation) because it provides insight into the inner workings of a race team.

The book is a quick read — just over 130 pages — and you could probably go through it in a couple sittings. However, I found myself stopping at the end of several chapters to think about the examples Letarte had just put forward and wondering how I could apply it to my own life.

Leading the Way never seems to get bogged down. Ryan, the “as told to” author who essentially took Letarte’s own words and put them in order, makes sure passages and transitions flow while expertly retaining Letarte’s voice.

You can practically hear Letarte reading the words aloud, which likely is the whole point.

Notification of bias: Nate Ryan is one of my good friends and I like Steve Letarte a lot, so I already wanted to like the book before I read it. But I genuinely enjoyed it.