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The Elephant in the Room: How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations
Diana McLain Smith


9781118015421
Retail Price: $34.95
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Format: Hardcover, 320pp.
ISBN: 9781118015421
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Pub. Date: August 9, 2011

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

A systematic look at how relationships determine the success of leaders and their enterprises, along with tools to help strengthen and change them

Since time immemorial, relationships have determined the fate of leaders. But today they are more critical to success than ever. No longer can leaders count on long time horizons or sloppy competition to make up for the inefficiencies that poor relationships create. Leaders must make decisions and take actions quickly and well with others, even those with whom they share very little?perhaps not even a time zone. This new world puts relationships at the center of what leaders must understand and master to succeed.
  1. Uses in-depth observational studies and clinical research to explore how relationships at the top of organizations work, develop, and change
  2. Shows how to understand, strengthen, and transform these relationships, so they can withstand the most intense pressures and conflicts
This important book features a Foreword by Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline.

"Grounded in years of research and consulting, Smith's frameworks are complex yet intuitive. Once you understand the basics of her lens and tools and work with them, they will grow into a fundamental element of your leadership practice. This is a big claim. But read on, and see for yourself."—Peter Senge, from the Foreword

Since time immemorial, relationships have determined the fate of leaders. But today they are more critical to success than ever. No longer can leaders count on slow markets or sloppy competition to make up for the inefficiencies that poor relationships create. Leaders must make decisions and take action quickly and well with people who have little in common—perhaps not even a time zone. This new world puts relationships at the center of what leaders must understand and master in order to succeed.

The Elephant in the Room offers a compelling and systematic look at how relationships determine the success of leaders and their enterprises. Written by business-relationship expert Diana McLain Smith, The Elephant in the Room draws on the author's clinical research and a wealth of in-depth observational studies to explain how relationships at the top of organizations work, develop naturally over time, and with effort, can be transformed. By revealing the hidden patterns underlying relationships, Smith shows how some relationships systematically drive growth, learning, and innovation, while others just as systematically stifle it. Then, by outlining a time-tested method for assessing and strengthening relationships, Smith shows how to build relationships strong enough to accelerate and sustain growth, even under the most intense pressures.

Armed with these powerful tools, leaders will be able to discuss, strengthen, and even transform their most important relationships. No longer powerless to confront the elephant in the room, they will be able to harness relationships to drive growth, learning, and change.



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Reviews

"Smith brings to center stage the three R's of leadership: relationships, relationships, and relationships. One of the most brilliant and original books I've read, illuminating a theme almost universally ignored, and, ironically, the indispensable core of successful leadership."
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Management, University of Southern California; and author, Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership


"If you're burned out on business books, this one will wake you up. Its non-intuitiveinsights are as refreshing as they are useful. You'll savor The Elephant in the Roomfrom first sentence to last."
—Douglas Stone, lecturer on law, Harvard Law School; and coauthor, DifficultConversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most


"Pick this up and you won't want to put it down. This fascinating book combinescommon sense, great stories, and practical advice about how to approach relationships in the workplace. While my job is to provide healthcare for two million people, all the interactions that matter are one-on-one."
—Nick W. Turkal, president and CEO, Aurora Health Care


"Leadership is a relationship. And it's the quality of your relationships that will ultimately determine your level of success. No one understands this better than Diana McLain Smith. Her new book, The Elephant in the Room, is extraordinary. It's one of the most insightful and discerning examinations of interpersonal relationships at work I've ever read. Buy it, read it, use it."
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge; and the Dean's Executive Fellowof Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University


"An exceptional book about how to navigate a terrain most leaders leave to intuition,and few know how to discuss. No leader, or aspiring leader, should operate without it because, at the end of the day, every organization's success is due to the people within it."
—Alan E. Lewis, chairman and CEO, Grand Circle Corporation


"Smith could help the proverbial three blind men not only correctly identify their elephant, but engage it, teach it to talk, and transform it into an organizational asset."
—Roger Schwarz, author, The Skilled Facilitator


 
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About the Author

Diana McLain Smith is the chief executive partner of New Profit Inc., a national venture philanthropy firm. Formerly she was a partner at The Monitor Group, a global management consultancy, serving as chair of Human Dynamics and Change in Organizations at Monitor University where she taught, consulted, and conducted research. She is also a founding partner of Action Design, which specializes in professional and organizational learning.



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Table of Contents

 
Foreword by Peter Senge
 
Part 1: Understanding Relationships
1Present and Unaccounted For
2The Life and Death of a Relationship
3 It’s a Matter of Perspective
 
Part 2: Strengthening Relationships
4Using the Heat of the Moment
5Mapping Relationships
6Focusing Investments, Managing Costs
 
Part 3: Transforming Relationships
7Navigating Change Over Time
8Disrupting Patterns
9Reframing Each Other
10Revising What You Know
 
Appendix A Guide to Behavioral Repertoires
Appendix B The Ladder of Reflection
Notes
Bibliography
Additional Reading
Acknowledgments
The Author
Index



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