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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Suggestion: The Truth About Leadership

Reading is one of my longstanding passions. Among other topics I love to read about organizational development, personal effectiveness, and effective leadership and, practical as I am, apply it when working with organizations to increase employee, team, and organizational effectiveness. Two of the many authors that I enjoy reading are James Kouzes and Barry Posner e.g. A Leader’s Legacy (2006). I enjoy their practical approach grounded in multiple theories and frameworks.

The most recent book by Kouzes and Posner that I’ve read is called The Truth About Leadership (2010). Their main premise is that the circumstances surrounding leadership have changed greatly in the thirty years that they’ve been interviewing leaders and researching leadership. The content of leadership, however, has not changed much according to the authors. I agree that core beliefs, values, and practices regarding leadership are minimally affected by circumstances and developments, even though I do feel the urge to stress inter-cultural smartness, the ability to inspire and work with multiple generations, and a thorough understanding and use of social media as just a few of the changes within leadership practice and effectiveness that I do see in the past decades.

Having said this, I applaud Kouzes and Posner for emphasizing the constants in leadership effectiveness. Constants that you can count on in this ever and rapidly changing world. The authors list ten truths about leadership that I want to share with you:

1. You make a difference.
2. Credibility is the foundation of leadership.
3. Values drive commitment.
4. Focusing on the future sets leaders apart.
5. You can’t do it alone.
6. Trust rules.
7. Challenge is the crucible for greatness.
8. You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all.
9. The best leaders are the best learners.
10.  Leadership is an affair of the heart.

I see these truths active and effective (or not) in business and in personal life/leadership. They form the backbone and the foundation of (leadership) effectiveness, whether in the context of a small family run business or start-up or of a longstanding multinational business, whether in a profit or non-profit organization, whether in the west or in the east, whether in the service industry or in manufacturing.

I recommend you read this down-to-earth and easy to read book with universal truths. Concepts that get you thinking about (and better: acting upon) your personal and leadership effectiveness – that is, if you are open to truly questioning yourself,  your beliefs, and your practices. You better!

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