BN.com Gift Guide

Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity

Overview

All Leaders Face Adversity. Exceptional Leaders Thrive in It.

Leadership is often a struggle, and yet strong taboos keep us from talking openly and honestly about our difficulties for fear of looking weak and seeming to lack confidence. But Steven Snyder shows that this discussion is vital—adversity is precisely what unlocks our greatest potential.

Using real-life stories drawn from his extensive research studying 151 diverse episodes of ...

See more details below
Paperback
$16.19
BN.com price
(Save 18%)$19.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (22) from $4.99   
  • New (12) from $11.30   
  • Used (10) from $4.99   
Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49
BN.com price
(Save 42%)$19.95 List Price

Overview

All Leaders Face Adversity. Exceptional Leaders Thrive in It.

Leadership is often a struggle, and yet strong taboos keep us from talking openly and honestly about our difficulties for fear of looking weak and seeming to lack confidence. But Steven Snyder shows that this discussion is vital—adversity is precisely what unlocks our greatest potential.

Using real-life stories drawn from his extensive research studying 151 diverse episodes of leadership struggle—as well as from his experiences working with Bill Gates in the early years of Microsoft and as a CEO and executive coach—Snyder shows how to navigate intense challenges to achieve personal growth and organizational success. He details strategies for embracing struggle and offers a host of unique tools and hands-on practices to help you implement them. By mastering the art of struggle, you’ll be better equipped to meet life’s challenges and focus on what matters most.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Leadership is never as easy as it looks and that's exactly as it should be, says executive, entrepreneur, and leadership coach Snyder, currently executive-in-residence at Minnesota's University of St. Thomas. Leadership requires extreme courage and strength, but as Snyder argues, the best leaders have to get past the expectation of perfection while still striving for greatness. The author asked corporate, nonprofit, and government leaders to speak to the times of struggle in their careers and shares 151 of these stories to illustrate how the acceptance of the hard work of leadership can create true greatness. Snyder walks readers through the all-important steps of what he terms "The Pathway to Adaptive Energy": becoming grounded, exploring new pathways, and deepening adaptive energy. In addition, he addresses the everyday difficulties of beating self-doubt, facing change, establishing balance, and getting the necessary support. This is a practical, thoughtful guide to creating sanity, as well as "purpose and meaning" within leadership.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly
Leadership is never as easy as it looks and that's exactly as it should be, says executive, entrepreneur, and leadership coach Snyder, currently executive-in-residence at Minnesota's University of St. Thomas. Leadership requires extreme courage and strength, but as Snyder argues, the best leaders have to get past the expectation of perfection while still striving for greatness. The author asked corporate, nonprofit, and government leaders to speak to the times of struggle in their careers and shares 151 of these stories to illustrate how the acceptance of the hard work of leadership can create true greatness. Snyder walks readers through the all-important steps of what he terms "The Pathway to Adaptive Energy": becoming grounded, exploring new pathways, and deepening adaptive energy. In addition, he addresses the everyday difficulties of beating self-doubt, facing change, establishing balance, and getting the necessary support. This is a practical, thoughtful guide to creating sanity, as well as "purpose and meaning" within leadership. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“Leadership and the Art of Struggle provides you with the opportunity to learn from Snyder’s remarkable wisdom. It is a living guide that you can return to time and time again as new situations arise.”
—From the foreword by Bill George, former CEO, Medtronic; Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School; and author of the bestselling True North

“Steven Snyder’s Leadership and the Art of Struggle is the must-read leadership book of the year. It is one of the most intelligent, revealing, and practical books on the subject I have ever read. It confronts a vital truth about leadership: that challenge is the crucible for greatness and that these adversities introduce us to ourselves. Buy this book immediately, read it with a sense of urgency, and apply it with the commitment of a disciple. You and those you work with will benefit greatly when you do.”
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge

“Steven Snyder covers all the bases from channeling your energy to managing conflict, including a great segment about overcoming your leadership blind spots. Leadership and the Art of Struggle is full of real-life examples of leaders who emerged from tough times better and stronger than before. This encouraging book is a must-read!”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Great Leaders Grow

“The leadership journey is rewarding but definitely not easy. Leadership and the Art of the Struggle gives you clear and compelling advice on transforming pitfalls into possibilities.”
—Jodee Kozlak, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Target

“A very fresh and inspiring perspective that constructively embraces the natural tensions that all leaders encounter every day. I heartily recommend it to any leader who aspires to lead and contribute more fully.”
—Douglas R. Conant, former President, CEO, and Director, Campbell Soup Company, and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller TouchPoints

“Steven courageously confronts the element of struggle, which is frequently overlooked in all the leadership hoopla. It’s time we had an open and honest conversation about this integral and vital aspect of leadership.”
—Ken Melrose, former CEO, Toro

“Steven guides you on a journey that can be deeply fulfilling as well as enlightening. I recommend this book for any leader who wants to engage more authentically and constructively in a complex and ever-changing world.”
—Mary Brainerd, CEO, HealthPartners

“Leadership and the Art of Struggle contains compelling stories of great leaders who have struggled with various facets of their leadership responsibility. It offers practical advice and tools to help you deal more effectively with the inevitable struggles of leadership.”
—Trudy Rautio, President and CEO, Carlson

“If you are leading an organization of any kind today or desire to lead one in the future, you need to read this book.”
—Frank Russomanno, former CEO, Imation

“Snyder has opened an intriguing and insightful portal into the challenge of leadership. You’ll be inspired and invigorated with ideas that you can immediately put into action.”
—Kevin Wilde, Chief Learning Officer, General Mills, and author of Dancing with the Talent Stars

“Life in a start-up is chaotic, intense, and unpredictable. Snyder knows this world well and gives you sage advice on how to remain grounded, focused, and energized. This is a book that every entrepreneur or would-be entrepreneur should read.”
—Michael Gorman, Managing Director, Split Rock Partners

“Snyder boldly tackles a subject that every leader needs to master. Sometimes leadership is a struggle, and these are the times that really put us to the test. This insightful book will teach you how to thrive during life’s most challenging moments.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times bestselling author of Mojo and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

“This book resonates to the core. It gives us grounding and offers precise practices for locating our work deep in the soul. Steven makes the dive into the waters of purposeful living and leading deep and attractive. What a delightful dive!”
—Richard Leider, bestselling author of The Power of Purpose and coauthor of Repacking Your Bags

“The French writer Albert Camus tells us, ‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.’ Snyder wisely observes that we can best strike a blow against tragedy and disappointment by using them as inspiration to make a positive difference in the lives of others through our personal leadership.”
—-Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman, Carlson

“This is the right book for these times. Leadership has become more difficult in the chaotic world we live in; Steven acknowledges that and draws on his own deep experience and the lessons learned of others to help any new, aspiring, or well-worn leader!”
—Beverly Kaye, founder of Career Systems International and coauthor of Love ’Em or Lose ’Em and Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

“Leadership and the Art of Struggle deserves to be a leadership classic! Snyder brilliantly charts a course to strengthen ourselves through the important crucibles of challenge and adversity. If you want to build more authentic leadership in yourself and others, get this life-changing book!”
—Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner, Korn/Ferry International, and bestselling author of The Pause Principle and Leadership from the Inside Out

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609946449
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/11/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 341,553
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Snyder is the founder of Snyder Leadership Group, an organizational consulting firm dedicated to cultivating inspired leadership. He is also an executive fellow in leadership at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Snyder was an early executive at Microsoft, where he managed the company’s relationship with IBM and was the general manager of a business unit. Later, Snyder became CEO of the Internet startup Net Perceptions, where he won the World Technology Award for Commerce.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Introduction
I WAS SPELLBOUND WATCHING THE FIRST PUBLIC DEMONSTRATION of the Lisa, Apple’s first computer with a graphical user interface (GUI). Steve Jobs had introduced the Lisa to journalists in New York City the week before, and his presentations had been electrifying. The event I attended in January 1983, which took place at the old New England Life Hall, was hosted by the Boston Computer Society, the world’s largest computer user group. Like many in the audience, I had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this bold new technology that promised to bring us to the cusp of a new age of computing.
What I did not know then was that, behind his charisma and bravado, Jobs was deeply conflicted and struggling on multiple levels. He had been thrown off the Lisa team because of detrimental, counterproductive behavior. Even as he was publicly extolling the virtues of the Lisa, he was doing everything he could within Apple to undermine its success in favor of the Macintosh. Adding to the irony on a personal level, the Lisa had been named for the daughter whom Jobs had abandoned, just as he himself had been abandoned by his own parents as an infant. In May 1985, Jobs’s aggressive, disrespectful, take-no-prisoners management style would contribute to his losing a power struggle with John Sculley—the chief executive officer that he had handpicked, wooed, and once called friend. Disillusioned and despondent, he left the company he had helped to found.
The Steve Jobs who emerged two decades later to deliver the 2005 Stanford University commencement address was a very different person. He had confronted his struggles, personal and professional, and had navigated through a number of challenges. He was on his way to becoming one of the most influential leaders of our time. Even though he died tragically young in 2011, his life is a testament to personal growth, leadership development, and human potential. Not only did Jobs push the boundaries of what was considered possible, he radically changed our thinking about leadership and innovation. He maximized his own contribution, left us wondering what more might have followed, and inspired us to see the benefits of shifting our perspective and thinking in new ways. Through his struggles Jobs had redefined his purpose in life and transformed his leadership energies in service to this core purpose.
Steve Jobs was not a perfect man or a perfect leader. He was a leader who struggled, like all of us, and whose life and leadership illustrated the developmental metamorphosis that is available to us all. All we need to do is choose it.
Viewing Struggle as an Art
Leadership is often a struggle. Yet societal taboos often prevent leaders from talking openly and honestly about their struggles for fear of being perceived as ineffective and inadequate. Social mores reinforce the myth that leaders are supposed to be perfect and that struggle is a sign of weakness and a source of shame. It is hard to keep these societal views in perspective, especially when facing significant challenges. This cultural programming, learned over many years, becomes ingrained, causing some leaders to lose their confidence and doubt their abilities, thinking something is wrong with them.
The best leaders learn to sidestep these unrealistic expectations by accepting themselves for who they are today while continually striving to be better tomorrow. These individuals come to understand that struggle is a natural part of leadership and that it is often the struggle itself that unlocks the potential for the greatest growth. Instead of denying the struggle or feeling diminished by it, they learn to embrace it as an art to be mastered. Consequently, they develop skills, capabilities, and practices that help them cope with—and even thrive in the midst of—challenge and adversity.
Everyone is at their own unique stage in the leadership continuum and in their mastery of the art of struggle. Some leaders, especially those who are just starting out, may not be aware that their behavior is counterproductive. They have no self-regulatory mechanism, no brakes. Some are so oblivious that they just plunge ahead until they run into a brick wall. They have no awareness of how their own choices and blind spots get them into trouble, and they blame others for their misfortune.
Some continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over. They go from one job to another, acting out the same patterns, reenacting the same scripts. As these scripts play out, they produce the same predictable, unsatisfactory results. Yet they lack the insight to connect the dots between their own unenlightened behavior and the unfavorable outcomes they grumble about.
Great leaders use failure as a wake-up call. Instead of blaming others, they seek out the counsel of a mentor and/or turn their attention inward for reflection and introspection. They become aware of how their own behaviors and practices contribute to undesirable outcomes and resolve to break from past habits, to begin anew. The next time they encounter the same constellation of circumstances, they try a different approach. Choosing a new script frees them from the prison of stale thinking and unproductive behavior and leads to an understanding of how they can work with others to achieve some larger purpose or mission.
As these awakened individuals advance on their leadership journey, they gradually view themselves and their role as leaders in fundamentally different ways than they did earlier in their careers. They reach a place where they view leadership as an enriching, deeply human experience. They derive happiness and fulfillment from not only their successes but also the intrinsic nature of the journey itself.
My goal is to meet you where you are right now and guide you to take your leadership to the next level. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or intimidated at any point in the process, I urge you to press forward. I truly believe that you will come to look forward to the challenges that await you, with anticipation, eagerness, and a newfound sense of confidence. Whether you feel self-conscious or self-assured, you will learn about potential pitfalls in the road ahead and how best to avoid them.
If you are immersed in a difficult leadership challenge and feeling trapped in a situation that seems beyond your control, the ideas and the exercises in this book can help reignite your sense of empowerment and spur you to brainstorm creative new solutions. Even if you consider yourself an accomplished leader with an extensive résumé of achievements, the insights you glean from these pages may expand your view of leadership and better equip you to coach others through their own struggles.
Ultimately, I am confident that you will find value in this book because it is a synthesis of collective wisdom from extraordinary leaders. They have gone through the same struggles you have. They have found the paths that are best for them. I am certain that you will find the path that is best for you.
Fulfilling your potential as a leader requires that you think differently about leadership. You must recast your struggles as positive learning experiences and view them as necessary steps in your development as a leader. You must look at leadership through an entirely different lens.
Leadership through a Different Lens
Some years ago I heard a former classmate of mine, Joe Badaracco, speak about a course he was teaching at Harvard Business School. He and his students studied leadership through the lens of literature. Instead of the usual case studies, the course examined the lives of fictional characters in literary works such as Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Badaracco’s premise was that fiction opens a new portal on leadership, deepening the understanding of leadership as a human endeavor, a reality that is often absent in other leadership approaches.
By delving into the raw humanity of these flawed yet often heroic characters, Badaracco guided his students to a compelling insight:
Leadership is a struggle by flawed human beings to make some important human values real and effective in the world as it is.
This concept may push some people out of their comfort zone. In a world influenced by relentlessly upbeat urgings, leaders may feel awkward about acknowledging that they struggle. It is understandable that leaders may be too deeply embarrassed to reveal their flaws—or to admit that they even have flaws. This reluctance is why Badaracco’s lens—let’s call it the Struggle Lens—is so crucial. It offers a visceral understanding of the human condition, which is the key to unlocking leadership potential and awakening the mind to an expanded menu of choices and possibilities. Let’s examine this Struggle Lens point by point.
Leadership … The Struggle Lens begins with several different assumptions about leadership. While other leadership models implicitly draw a distinction between leaders and followers, this lens is egalitarian: Everyone who engages in the struggle to make important human values real and effective is practicing leadership. Similarly, while other leadership models focus only on external behaviors, the Struggle Lens expands this view to also embrace the inner experience of the leader.
… is a struggle … Yes, leadership is a struggle, at least some of the time. It is vitally important to face this struggle head on—not hiding from it or feeling shame—because struggle is the gateway to learning and growth.
… by flawed human beings… All human beings have their own unique frailties. Some may argue that people should concentrate on developing their strengths and take no notice of their weaknesses. But conveniently ignoring blind spots, as noted in chapter 7, can lead to serious trouble. By acknowledging that you are imperfect, you give voice to a fundamental truth about what it is to be human, opening pathways for compassion, forgiveness, and healing.
… to make some important human values real and effective … Traditional leadership models emphasize the importance, and rightly so, of goal attainment. Yet an obsessive preoccupation with goals may blind a leader to circumstances in which goals and values, whether personal or organizational, are not in sync. This misalignment needs to be brought front and center so that explicit conversations can take place. What’s more, not all important human values can be made real and effective in every situation, so choices must be made. What does that process look like?
… in the world as it is. Leadership occurs not in some ideal world but in the real world, filled with complexity, chaos, and uncertainty. Taking action always produces consequences that ripple out into the world at large. And no matter how creative the solution, there are always limits to an individual’s power and influence; some factors are simply beyond one’s control. Conviction must be tempered with pragmatism.
The Struggle Lens presents a new portrait of leadership, affirming that struggle has been central to humanity throughout the ages. A new narrative surfaces, emphasizing the realization of human potential through the crucible of adversity.
While traditional leadership narratives contemplate what and how, this struggle-centric narrative probes deeper, uncovering why. Ultimately, it becomes clear that the actualization of important human values is at the core of all human striving.
Indeed struggle and leadership are unquestionably intertwined. A new perspective dawns when struggle is recognized as an intrinsic aspect of leadership and an opportunity for leaders to realize their full potential. When struggle is viewed as an art to be mastered, a new set of strategies and practices emerges, enabling leaders to elevate their skills to ever-greater heights.
The Art of Struggle: Mastery Practices
Although the Struggle Lens was initially focused on fictional characters, its power can be fully leveraged by using it to probe real stories of actual leaders. To that end I asked numerous corporate, nonprofit, and government leaders to recall and describe a time of great struggle in their professional careers. Rather than predefine for them what struggle was, I allowed their unique narratives to guide my inquiry.
From 151 struggle examples covering a variety of challenging situations, a distinct pattern emerged. I saw that three fundamental conditions, or defining elements, were at the heart of every episode:
Change plays a prominent role in leadership struggle.
This change creates a natural set of tensions.
The tensions throw the leader off balance.
Many of these real-world struggle stories turned out well. Some did not. Outcomes were influenced largely by how effectively leaders channeled their energies to accept and embrace change and adaptively engage in the struggle. Even in the stories that ended badly, there was much learning to be gained; failures often proved to be catalysts for future growth.
How can leaders learn to adaptively and effectively channel their energies? My research reveals a set of core practices that form the backbone of this book, which is organized into three parts.
Part I, which encompasses the first five chapters, focuses on becoming grounded—gaining a mooring on struggle and restoring balance. After a closer look at the defining elements of struggle (change, tensions, and being out of balance), the spotlight is trained on different scripts that commonly play out as struggle unfolds. You will also be introduced to the grounding practices:
Adopt a growth mind-set.
Become resilient in the face of failure.
Draw your tension map.
Center your mind, body, and spirit.
Find the support you need.
After becoming grounded, leaders are ready to explore new pathways, the focus of the four chapters in part II. An extended discussion of the Struggle Lens provides context and texture as the exploring practices are examined:
Reimagine the situation to discover a new creative path.
Reinvent yourself.
Overcome your blind spots.
Heal yourself from conflict.
Envision the common ground.
Write or revise your personal vision statement.
Recommit, pivot, or leap.
Part III is dedicated to deepening your adaptive energy so that you can fully realize your leadership potential. The deepening practices offered in these final two chapters validate that the leadership journey is a marathon. Yet the journey becomes more enjoyable and rewarding with every mile as you learn and apply the deepening practices:
Prepare for what lies ahead.
Harness the engine of discipline.
Celebrate what’s precious.
Taking Center Stage: Leader Stories
A real-world exploration of leadership struggle requires real stories told by real leaders. You will meet people like Anne Mulcahy, Kathee Tesija, Ken Melrose, Joe Dowling, Dick Schulze, Marc Belton, Kate Herzog, Joe Kelly, David Durenberger, and Mike Berman. All know what it’s like to be highly regarded leaders in careers as diverse as business, government, theater, and the military. All share their struggle narratives and, more importantly, their learning. In a few stories I have changed names and altered details—as indicated in the Notes—to protect the privacy of certain individuals. Some of these leaders stumbled badly before recovering admirably to blaze new trails or imagine innovative new solutions. Others discovered more-fulfilling career and life paths through their struggles. Other leaders who nose-dived and burned out emerged better and wiser for the experience.
I will also share my own stories, including some that illustrate the lessons I learned while working for and with Bill Gates. I hope and trust that you will actively engage with this narrative through the use of your own stories as well, beginning with the reflective exercises in chapter 3 as well as the additional resources on my website, www.snyderleadership.com. By relating to and connecting with these leadership stories, taking the mastery practices to heart, and working through the accompanying exercises, you will make the art of struggle come to life in ways both personal and profound.
Fully investing in this book by treating it as an interactive experience can only benefit your own leadership journey. The art of struggle is messy and imprecise. The path is littered with obstacles. You must summon the courage to confront your own story, to reconstruct your leadership narrative, and to forge ahead even in the midst of hardship. Out of your discomfort will flow a newfound ease, a self-assuredness that is at once both calming and energizing, and the rewarding blend of command and confidence that only mastery can bestow.
If you are ready, it is time to begin.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter One – An art to be mastered
Chapter Two – Make sense of a chaotic world
Chapter Three – Navigate tensions
Chapter Four – Illuminate blind spots
Chapter Five– Transcend conflict
Chapter Six – Connect with your life’s purpose
Chapter Seven – Anticipate
Chapter Eight – Savor the marathon

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)