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Soundview Executive Book Summaries
This summary provides excerpts of the wisdom from some of the most recognized thought leaders of our day who share their unique vision of leadership for the future.
Peter Drucker on Executive Leadership and Effectiveness
by Joseph A. Maciariello
Peter Drucker’s writings on management and executive leadership are extensive and varied. Yet through all of his work a definite vision of what executive leadership and management is and how leaders and managers should operate does emerge.
The true test of an organization is the presence of a spirit of performance. An organization that is high in spirit builds on and develops the strength of each person and this results in common people doing extraordinary things. To guard against weaknesses created by an emphasis on strengths, a highly spirited organization will cover weaknesses of people by overlapping the strengths of others upon these people "like shingles on a roof."
Systems Citizenship: The Leadership Mandate for this Millennium
by Peter Senge
"The only enduring source of competitive advantage is an organization’s relative ability to learn faster than its competition," wrote Arie de Geus in Harvard Business Review in 1988. With these words the organizational learning movement was born. By De Geus’s definition, today’s organizations face unprecedented learning challenges, which we are only starting to perceive. These challenges go beyond adapting to the Internet and other new technologies or dealing with global competition. They go to the very DNA of the Industrial Age business model, a model that shapes modern societies as well.
While Arie De Geus’s learning imperative was initially directed to individual organizations and especially businesses, the challenge of evolving to remain in harmony with our environment today applies also to larger supply networks, entire industries and whole societies. This is the message of globalization and it is indeed an alien one for all of us. We’ve never been here before-and the future is watching.
The Challenge of Complexity
by John Alexander
Why is the very definition of leadership changing? It is believed this phenomenon is connected to the rise of complex challenges, those for which no pre-existing solutions or expertise exists. Such challenges test the limits of an organization's current strategies. They reveal the shortcomings of leadership as it is currently practiced. They create the demand for a new kind of leadership, whether one is working in the private, public or social sectors.
When existing strategies and tools fail - as occurred with 9/11, the 2005 hurricanes and the South Asian tsunami - something new is needed. Today's leaders are being called upon by necessity to develop responses to complex challenges brought on by unexpected or unimagined events or situations. We don't know exactly what their answers will look like, but we do know this: the best leaders of the future will embrace complexity and the skills needed to harness it. The new leadership skill set emphasizes participative management, building and mending relationships and change management.
Leadership Over Fear
by John Edwin Mroz
There are four things we must do: First, natural leaders in a world of fear and change must step up and lead themselves. Second, such men and women must imagine the possibility of change. Third, they must seek out other natural leaders who, like themselves, have had enough of watching and are willing to assert themselves. Fourth, they must set a pace that fits the context.
Leaders willing to take risks to overcome fear are all around us. Therein lies our hope for dealing with the seemingly overwhelming challenges to our planet in this 21st century. A key leadership challenge today is how to mobilize sufficient numbers of these naturally embedded leaders across the divides that breed fear and extremism and threaten our future and that of our children. It all starts with our willingness to face up to our own fears, stare them down, and find the emerging natural leader within each of us.
Leaders of the Future: Growing One Eyed Kings
by General Eric K. Shinseki
A quotation in a good book proclaimed, "In the Kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." The reference to One Eyed Kings encouraged young leaders, who were still growing their professional instincts, to embrace uncertainty and to learn to be decisive. Accept uncertainty as a given, balance risk and opportunity, find ways to generate momentum, master the transitions which always threaten to steal momentum, and retain the freedom to act whenever opportunities present themselves. There are the hallmarks of dominant decisive operations, and they are the same attributes critical to leaders of the future, whether in the military, in business, or in the social sector.
Visioning is the most demanding task for any institution’s senior leadership. Looking into the future is an uncertain task at best, and it requires experienced, creative and determined risk takers to deliver visions of merit. Being more agile than one’s competition is powerful in business. In the military profession, there is no alternative to being more agile, more visionary, and bolder than your competition. Simply, it is the difference between victory and defeat.
Leading New Age Professionals
by Marshall Goldsmith
Several trends are causing managers to revisit their assumptions about what leadership means, and what work means, in a rapidly changing high-pressure, insecure professional work.
As corporation’s expectations of their professionals have increased, the professional’s expectations of their leaders have also increased. Peter Drucker often talked about the importance of leading knowledge workers - professionals who know more about what they are doing than their boss. In leading new age professionals, it is important to "reverse the pyramid" and look at leadership from the perspective of the wants and needs of the professional - as opposed to the perspective of the skills of the leader. In other words, the leader of the future may be judged more by the gifts she provides than the gifts that she possesses.
Leading in the Knowledge Worker Age
by Steven R. Covey
So many of our modern management practices come from the Industrial Age. The problem is managers today are still applying the Industrial Age control model to knowledge workers. Can you imagine the personal and organizational cost of failing to fully engage the passion, talent and intelligence of the workforce in this new reality? It is far greater than all taxes, interest charges and labor costs put together!
Leadership in the Knowledge Worker Age will be characterized by those who find their own voice and who, regardless of formal positions, inspire others to find their voice. It is leadership where people communicate to others their worth and potential so clearly they will come to see it in themselves. Therein lies a bright and limitless future. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries