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The Leadership Engine

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2002

    They Can, They Do, They Teach

    Noel Tichy¿s ¿The Leadership Engine¿ is a practical and easy to read book on leadership. His research is exhaustive and well documented; there are sixty pages of notes and bibliographic citations. Tichy¿s central theme is that winning companies possess a ¿Leadership Engine¿ that produces dynamic leaders at every level within the organization. He argues forcefully that winning is about leadership and that leadership is the key trait that distinguishes winners from losers. He defines winning as success in adding value, coupled with sustained excellence. For a company or organization to be successful it must have outstanding leaders at every level. In order to have those dynamic leaders at every level, the organization itself must systematically produce them. Tichy insists that learning, teaching, and leading are intertwined and admits he is a proponent of transformational leadership theory. Elements of this theory are clearly evident throughout his book. Tichy is also resolute in his belief that leading IS teaching¿¿they can, they do, they teach¿¿this point is driven home numerous times throughout his book(1). Winning organizations are teaching organizations. Successful organizations have proven leaders who are both teachers and avid learners themselves. The author emphasizes on numerous occasions that leaders must have a teachable point of view and must create teachable moments for the right kind of learning to occur¿the kind that transforms an organization. A leader¿s ¿teachable point of view¿ is a trinitarian view composed of: a) ideas, b) values, and c) emotional energy and edge(2). Ideas are the substance of learning and good ideas are teachable. Tichy uses numerous real life examples from the business world and even the military to highlight his points throughout the book. His liberal use of relevant and true stories to emphasize the point he is making, is in itself, a subtle illustration of a key leadership trait¿being a good story teller. Tichy insists that successful leaders are successful teachers because they use stories and share examples from their own personal life. The author¿s frequent use of stories makes the book interesting, even captivating at times and minimizes the possibility of the reader getting bored. The Leadership Engine is an outstanding, well organized, and very readable book; and not just a book, but a useful handbook as well. Tichy includes a 99-page workbook with practical exercises designed to both help the reader assess his or her own leadership and to help the reader develop a ¿Leadership Engine¿ in his or her own organization. The workbook is what sets this leadership book apart from the thousands of others in this crowded category. Noel Tichy has accomplished what he set out to do¿convince us that winning organizations are teaching organizations. However, for the student of leadership, there is no new ground or profound insights in this book and consequently, I am not convinced that it deserved its Business Week ¿Book of the Year¿ honor. NOTES (1)Taken from the oft repeated jest by George Bernard Shaw that, ¿Those who can, do¿those who can¿t, teach.¿ This quote does not appear in Tichy¿s book. (2)Tichy defines ¿edge¿ as the courage to see reality and act on it.

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