Monday, September 26, 2005

Possibly a New Seminal Book

A friend recently recommended a leadership book to me: Leadership on the Line by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky. I'm just over fifty pages into it and I believe I will be adding it to my personal list of seminal books.

The basic premise is that leadership is a dangerous avocation. Effective leaders become the target of people threatened by change. The result can be devastating and derailing for a leader. The book describes this dynamic and provides practical suggestions for dealing with these dangers.

Here are some key take-aways from chapter 1, The Heart of Danger. First, people don't resist change, they resist loss. Understanding the potential losses to your constituents is key to leading them through changes. Second, the authors define two types of problems: Technical problems, which can be solved with the right process or knowledge; and adaptive problems, which require learning, experimentation, and cultural change. Leaders need to focus on addressing adaptive problem; helping their teams cope with their losses and understanding the value to them and/or the larger group.

I'm finding applications of these ideas almost on a daily basis. I can't recommend the book more highly. If you prefer seminars to cuddling up to a good book, the authors have set up the Cambridge Leadership Associates™ to teach leaders how to approach adaptive problem solving.

More to come as I find additional insight from this impressive book.

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