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Hesselbein on Leadership

Hesselbein on Leadership

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by Frances Hesselbein

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Frances Hesselbein, once a volunteer troop leader, became CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, mobilizing around mission to lead the organization through a time of turbulent change and to reach, and be relevant to, all girls. She is chairman and founding president of the Drucker Foundation; a leader hailed by Fortune, BusinessWeek, and the New York Times; recipient of


Frances Hesselbein, once a volunteer troop leader, became CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, mobilizing around mission to lead the organization through a time of turbulent change and to reach, and be relevant to, all girls. She is chairman and founding president of the Drucker Foundation; a leader hailed by Fortune, BusinessWeek, and the New York Times; recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor. Now, for the first time, Frances Hesselbein has collected her most incisive and stirring writings on leadership in one compelling volume.

The clear, thought-provoking leadership experiences and principles Hesselbein shares in this book will release the energy of leaders everywhere as they become leaders of change, leaders of the future. Hesselbein on Leadership also provides the practical, down-to-earth knowledge that will enable readers to make a difference every day. This compendium of leadership wisdom includes Hesselbein's insights on innovation, change, diversity, and what it means to be a leader who is a woman. At the heart of the book is Hesselbein's deep belief that leadership is about character-- "leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do it."

Hailed by Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, Peter Senge, Jim Collins and others as one of the most innovative and inspired leaders today, Frances Hesselbein gives readers a star to steer by. Hesselbein on Leadership will engage, energize, and inspire leaders to do their best and be their best.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Frances Hesselbein was once a volunteer troop leader, made her way up to CEO of the Girl Scouts of America and is now the chairman of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management. She obviously knows the intricacies of leadership, and in Hesselbein on Leadership, she shares specific leadership principles and her thoughts on innovation, change, diversity and being a female leader. The slim volume dishes out valuable tidbits of advice, such as "regularly acknowledge the contributions of those within and outside the organization" and "create organizations in which people know that it's their job... to care about the results." (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
A Fresh Perspective On Leadership
A leader who has a history of innovative and inspired leadership is the founding president and former chairwoman of the Drucker Foundation, Frances Hesselbein. Once a volunteer Girl Scout troop leader, she would eventually become CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA during a turbulent era when its days seemed numbered, and turn the organization around using her skills as a leader and her dedication to the organization's mission. When asked to define how she was able to do it, she writes, "Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do it."

Hesselbein describes the successful leader of today and tomorrow as a "how to be" leader. She says this leader knows that people are the organization's greatest asset and demonstrates this philosophy in word, behavior and relationships. She also describes the "how to be" leader as one who holds forth the vision of the organization in ways that compel people to mobilize around the mission of the organization. She writes that this kind of leader also knows that listening to customers and learning what they value is a critical component in growing an organization today and into the future.

Hesselbein on Leadership covers very little of the life of the author and focuses primarily on the skills great leaders need to succeed. The author writes directly to leaders with the knowledge she has acquired without stepping back in time to justify her points. Her wisdom is straightforward and to the point, and organized to serve as inspirational messages from a passionate leader who has a vision to share and a mission to lead.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
Hesselbein's book on leadership tackles many ideas about teamwork, ethics, accountability and communications. Hesselbein on Leadership takes a different, more succinct approach to her conclusions by outlining the attributes of the effective leader into clear statements that hit home without embellishment. This book provides compelling insight into the inner thoughts and drives of effective leaders who have had a tremendous impact on others. Copyright (c) 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

From the Publisher
"...this is worthwhile reading..." (sps.org.co.uk, October 2002)

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Managing in a World That Is Round

Five hundred years ago, Renaissance Man discovered that the world was round. Three hundred fifty years later, Organization Man developed the practice of management. But as this practice evolved, he forgot that his world was round, and he built a management world of squares and boxes and pyramids. His world had a special language that matched its structure: the language of command and control, of order and predict, of climb the ladder, of top and bottom, up and down, superior and subordinate.

In every large organization for the next one hundred years, rank equaled authority. And for the most part, the old hierarchy that boxed people and functions in squares and rectangles, in rigid structures, worked well. It even developed the famous pyramid with the CEO sitting on the pointed top, looking down as his workforce looked up.

And then a period of massive historic change began, of global competition and blurred boundaries, of old answers that did not fit the new realities. In all three sectors of public, private, and social sector organizations there grew a new cynicism about our basic institutions. With government, corporations, and voluntary or social sector organizations trying to ride the winds of change, a different philosophy began to move across the landscape of organizations, and with it came a new language, a new approach, and a new diversity of leadership.

In the 1970s and 1980s, some leaders in the private and the voluntary sectors saw that the hierarchies of the past did not fit the present they were living or the future they envisioned--so they took people and functions outof the boxes and, in doing so, they liberated the human spirit and transformed the organization.

Today we begin to see the new leaders, the leaders of the future, working in fluid and flexible management structures; and we hear a new language from these leaders--they understand the power of language.

"Mission-focused, values-based, demographics-driven"

"Learning to lead people and not to contain them"

"Management is a tool--not an end"

"Followership is trust"

From my own experience in 1976, when I left the mountains of western Pennsylvania to begin my work as CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, the largest organization for girls and women in the world, I knew that the old structures were not right for the next decade, let alone the next century. So volunteers and staff together unleashed our people through a flat, circular, fluid management system. In the new organizational structure, people and functions moved across three concentric circles, with the CEO in the middle looking across, not at the top looking down. Five minutes after it was presented, a colleague dubbed it "the bubble chart" and an observer, "the wheel of fortune." Our people moved across the circles of the organization--never up and down--and the result was high performance and high morale.

I am often asked by management students and middle managers in organizations I work with, "How can we free up the organization and make the changes you talk about if we are not at the top?" I reply, "You can begin where you are, whatever your job. You can bring a new insight, new leadership to your team, your group."

That advice applies equally--or especially--to senior executives. As Peter Senge points out in "The Ecology of Leadership" on page 18 of Leader to Leader (Fall 1996, issue number 2), when it comes to sustaining meaningful change, senior executives have considerably less power than most people think. But one place where they can effect change is with their own work groups and everyday activities.

With the return of a more fluid, circular view of the world, the days of turf battles, the star system, and the Lone Ranger are over. The day of the partnership is upon us. Leaders who learn to work with other corporations, government agencies, and social sector organizations will achieve new energy, new impact, and new significance in their organization's work. But to manage effective partnerships, leaders will have to master three imperatives--managing for the mission, managing for innovation, and managing for diversity.

Managing for the mission. Understanding one's mission is the essence of effective strategy, for the small nonprofit enterprise or the Fortune 500. Consider the power of three questions that Peter Drucker offers those who are formulating an organizational mission:

What is our business/mission?

Who is our customer?

What does the customer value?

We devoted many pages of the first issue of Leader to Leader to the power of a motivating, aligned mission, so I'll add just a simple observation. Peter Drucker says an effective mission statement "must fit on a T-shirt." I would add it must give people a clear, compelling, and motivating reason for the organization's existence. For example, "To serve the most vulnerable," the mission of the International Red Cross, satisfies both criteria and succeeds brilliantly; "To maximize shareholder value," the de facto mission of many corporations, satisfies only the first, and fails miserably.

Managing for innovation. Peter Drucker defines innovation as "change that creates a new dimension of performance." If we build innovation into how we structure the organization, how we lead the workforce, how we use teams, and how we design the ways we work together, then innovation becomes a natural part of the culture, the work, the mindset, the "new dimension of performance." At the same time, we must practice "planned abandonment" and give up programs that may work today but will have little relevance in the future.

Managing for diversity. Perhaps the biggest question in today's world is, "How do we help people deal with their deepest differences?" Every leader must anticipate the impact of an aging, richly diverse population on the families, work organizations, services, and resources of every community. Headlines and TV tell us that governance amid diversity is the world's greatest challenge.

Those headlines also remind us of the grinding reality that no single entity--whether, public, private, or nonprofit--can restore our cities to health or create a healthy future for all our citizens. But in the emerging partnerships across all three sectors, we see remarkable openness and results. We need thousands more such partnerships. All of us are learning from one another. Thousands of dedicated public sector employees overcome daunting odds every day to improve their corner of the world. A huge social sector--with over a million voluntary organizations in the United States and over twenty million worldwide--shows what dedicated people can do, even on woefully inadequate budgets. And the incredible resources, energy, and expertise of the private sector reminds us that behind every problem there really is an opportunity. It is the leader's job to identify the critical issues in which his or her organization can make a difference, then build effective partnerships based on mission, innovation, and diversity to address those issues.

We need to remember that we can do little alone and yet much together. To be effective, leaders must look beyond the walls of the corporation, the university, the hospital, the agency--and work to build a cohesive community that embraces all its people--knowing there is no hope for a productive enterprise within the walls if the community outside the walls cannot provide the healthy, energetic workforce essential in a competitive world.


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Frances Hesselbein could manage any company in America"
—Peter F. Drucker

"Frances Hesselbein ia a leader in whom competence, vision and virtue exist in nearly perfect balance."
—Warren Bennis

"Frances Hesselbein displays a clarity of purpose and a management strategy and direction that very few for-profit CEO's traipsing through this campus have ever shown."
—Leonard Schlesinger, Harvard Business School

Meet the Author

Frances Hesselbein is chairman of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management and served as its founding president and chief executive officer from 1990-2000. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor, in 1998. She is editor in chief of Leader to Leader, the premier leadership journal, and coeditor of numerous books on leadership including The Drucker Foundation Future Series book The Leader of the Future (Jossey-Bass).

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frances Hesselbein is a role model for me and thousands like me. Her example, and her clear, effective writing, provide us with insight and inspiration. This book will become one of those titles you consult every few years when your batteries need recharging and you want to relearn some timeless lessons. Like Max De Pree's "Leadership is an Art," Hesselbein's book makes us see that the leader's role is to serve others, helping them to make the most of their contributions to further the organization's mission. This book is a small jewel box, easy to carry and open, filled with remarkable gems. Read it yourself, then share a copy with your daughter, your son, your friends and colleagues.