The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action Through Narrative / Edition 1

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The Secret Language of Leadership

"STEVE DENNING is the Warren Buffett of business communication. He sees things others don't and is able to explain them so the rest of us can understand."—Chip Heath, coauthor, Made to Stick, and professor of organizational behavior, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

"I highly recommend you get this book today and read it tonight. Tomorrow will be an entirely different kind of day if you do."—Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the best-selling The Leadership Challenge and A Leader's Legacy

How do leaders connect and engage with their audiences? In this sequel to The Leader's Guide to Storytelling, business narrative expert Steve Denning explains why traditional approaches to leadership communication don't work and reveals the hidden patterns that effective leaders use to spark change. The book shows how anyone can inspire enduring enthusiasm for a cause, even in skeptical, cynical, or even hostile audiences.

The book introduces the concept of narrative intelligence—an ability to understand and act and react agilely in the quicksilver world of interacting narratives. It shows why this ability is key to the central task of leadership, what its dimensions are, and how you can measure it.

The book's lucid explanations, vivid examples, and practical tips are essential reading for CEOs, managers, change agents, marketers, salespersons, brand managers, politicians, teachers, parents—anyone who is setting out to the change the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Named one of the "Best Business Books of the Year" (2007) by Financial Times: "Leaders don’t just execute strategy, they must inspire others to follow...This book explains how." (Financial Times, December 8, 2007)

"Denning cohesively links the importance of narrative intelligence and telling stories to leadership success." (Library Journal, December 2007)

"...if there's one person who knows more than anyone else about the power of business narrative it's...Steve Denning."  (, Friday 7th December 2007)

"This book's lucid explanations, vivid examples and practical tips are essential reading..."  (, Tuesday 4th December 2007)

" array of glowing testimonials from truly famous people.  Definitely one for those interested in transformational change."  (Strategic Communication Management, December 2007)

"…an educational and informative book that can be effortlessly read from cover to cover." (Inside Knowledge, September 2007)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787987893
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/12/2007
  • Series: J-B US non-Franchise Leadership Series, #40
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 329,293
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.15 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

The Author

Stephen Denning is senior fellow at the James MacGregor Burns Leadership Academy at the University of Maryland and the author of The Leader's Guide to Storytelling and Squirrel Inc. from Jossey-Bass. He is former program director, knowledge management, at the World Bank. In 2003 he was named as one of the world's Top Two Hundred Business Gurus. His articles have appeared in leading business publications such as Harvard Business Review and Strategy & Leadership.

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Table of Contents

Preface: My Leadership Journey.

Part One: What Is Transformational Leadership?

Introduction: Ten Mistakes Transformational Leaders Make.

1 The Secret Language of Leadership.

Part Two: The Language of Leadership: Key Enablers.

2 Articulating a Clear, Inspiring Goal.

3 The Leader’s Own Story: Committing to the Goal.

4 Mastering the Audience’s Story.

5 Cultivating Narrative Intelligence.

6 Telling Truthful Stories.

7 Leadership Presence: The Body Language of Leadership.

Part Three: The Language of Leadership: Key Steps.

8 Getting People’s Attention.

9 Stimulating Desire.

10 Reinforcing with Reasons.

11 Continuing the Conversation.

12 Epilogue.

Appendix 1: Presentation to the Change Management Committee of the World Bank: April 1996.

Appendix 2: Templates and Exercises.

Appendix 3:What’s Your Narrative Intelligence?



About the Author.


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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Leading with a passion

    This isn't just another book about how to become a better manager; it's about how to use language to become an "inspirational leader" who can bring about transformation and lasting change. Stephen Denning explains that transformational leadership is not the sole providence of an extraordinary few. Anyone with enough vision, commitment and grit to master a basic set of skills that he calls the "language of transformational leadership" can become a leader who creates change. Denning turns away from aloof reasoning and dusty information, and advocates being provocative and inspirational instead. His only lapse is a love of repetition. getAbstract believes that leaders who want to master persuasive advocacy will enjoy this in-depth guide.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2008

    Connect emotionally or nothing happens

    This book uses the same strong narrative and techniques on the reader - as is required to transform an organisation. Well researched and referenced, with practical and historical examples. Be ready to be passionate. Be ready for the traditional backlash.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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