Frequent readers of the business parable genre, in which Important Lessons are learned through the mistakes and successes of barely fictional characters, know these books often start with the protagonist, typically a harried or burned-out CEO, encountering a Mysterious Guru.

That’s the setup for The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership (Dearborn Trade Publishing) by Steve Farber, a veteran leadership consultant whose clients include Charles Schwab, Kraft Foods, and Wells Fargo. Our guy (also named Steve), who makes good money but wonders if that’s all there is, meets a weathered surfer-dude called Edg — as in “cutting,” or “over the.” Edg quickly dishes his four-word formula for extreme leadership: Love, Energy, Audacity, Proof. LEAP, in other words.

Over the next several days, Steve explores these big ideas with his new mentor. The true leader, Steve learns, plays it anything but safe; in fact, he must seek out danger. Avoid what intimidates you and you avoid learning and growth. Taking on the scary challenge, even if you fail, proves you’re a human being worth following, not some “idealized icon of unattainable perfection.”

And how does love fit into the workplace? Cynics will snicker, but Farber argues that only love — of a business, a project, your cus-tomers — will generate the energy and inspire the audacity that builds a great company. Without love as the fuel, the fire won’t burn.

The Radical Leap, a cut above most of its shelf mates, is written with verve, humor, and convincing candor. Its characters seem like real people, not sloganeering stick figures. As Edg notes, in the wake of Enron, ImClone, WorldCom, and many more, maybe a little “trust and love and values” are just what we need.