Thursday, June 27, 2013

Harvard Business Review 10 Must Reads on Leadership

Published in 2011, the HBR's 10 Must Reads on Leadership pulls together some of my favorite articles as well as adds others that are sure to be of historic significance in the leadership studies field.  With authors like Daniel Goleman, Peter Drucker, Ron Heifetz and Don Laurie, Warren Bennis, Jim Collins, Peter Senge and others, the collection does not disappoint.

This collection is also good in that it doesn't claim any shared perspective; it reflects the best thinking of the respective authors, each of which poses interesting perspectives whether or not you agree.  A couple of gems from my view are:
  1. John Kotter (in What Leaders Really Do) critiqued the management by objectives and ISO advocates by saying that today's organizations are over-managed and under-led.  In Kotter's words, managers "embrace long-term planning as a panacea for their lack of direction and inability to adapt to an increasingly competitive and dynamic business environment." (p. 46)
  2. Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones (in Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?) proposed a different way of leading that includes selectively showing weaknesses, relying on intuition, managing with tough empathy, and revealing differences.  Their proposition - leading with these attributes will attract others to follow you.
  3. Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas (in Crucibles of Leadership) reflected that many leaders have encountered some dramatic or crucible moment that forever changed the way they saw the world.  A particularly poignant example was that of Vernon Jordan, lawyer and former presidential advisor, whose crucible was in service to former Atlanta mayor, Robert F. Maddox.  Instead of being defeated by Maddox's pejorative assumptions and derision about his being able to read, Jordan reflected in his own later writing, "His half-mocking, half-serious comments about my education were the death rattle of his culture.  When he saw that I was... crafting a life for myself that would make me a man in... ways he thought of as being a man, he was deeply unnerved." (p. 105)
This HBR collection is definitely worth a read and worth keeping on hand when perplexed by questions that students of leadership face every day.

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