The Nature of Leadership: Reptiles, Mammals, And the Challenge of Becoming a Great Leader
B. Joseph White and Yaron Prywes
Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:
Foreword by C.K. Prahalad
A truly great leader is a unique animal.
Leaders come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Some are the reptiles, the cold-blooded, tough-as-nails decision makers with their eyes on the numbers and a focus on control. Others are the mammals, the warm-blooded, compassionate creatures who connect with those around them and build success through mutual trust and open communication.
Good leaders, of course, combine the best attributes of both. And the truly great leader is the one who transcends type and moves beyond usual barometers of success to achieve real change in his or her organization.
It is time to challenge yourself to become a great leader. It won’t be easy or quick. After all, writes Joe White, "You can’t become a Great Leader just by deciding that’s your goal." Still, by setting the goal, you will commit yourself to climb what the author calls the Leadership Pyramid and achieve milestones in your professional and personal development.
You’ll start by building the basics, or Foundation Requirements: a desire to be in charge, and the corresponding ability, strength, and character that all leaders—especially the great ones—must possess.
And you’ll develop a balance between disciplined, analytical reptilian leadership characteristics and those of the nurturing, engaged mammal.
As these attributes mature, you will notice your perspective has changed. You will find inherent value in risk-taking and innovation, you will require and reward superb talent, and you will see the wide implications of every potential decision through development of the "helicopter view."
Finally, all these skills and qualities will coalesce into something bigger than the sum of their parts, an intangible but very real "sparkle factor" that separates the great leaders from the merely good.
The Nature of Leadership looks at the universal qualities of great contemporary leaders as well as those historical figures—such as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—whose leadership brilliance still resonates. It cites modern organizational leaders ranging from IBM’s tough Lou Gerstner to the mammalian Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, along with South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp, GE’s Jack Welch, Apple’s innovative Steve Jobs, and many "unsung heroes" who have achieved greatness. Joe White also sprinkles the book with anecdotes of his own experiences, writing with an exceptional blend of warmth and candor.
A special feature of this mind-opening book is the "nature of your leadership" survey, a questionnaire to help you identify your strengths, preferences, and self-development needs.
With its unique combination of inspiring examples, cogent analysis, and practical advice, The Nature of Leadership takes you beyond the usual boundaries of type to a realm of individual and organizational growth reserved for only the greatest leaders.
By breaking the myth of birth, academic credentials and privilege as prerequisites to leadership, he has democratized it. “Yes you can” is the message.
—C.K. Prahalad, Professor of Corporate Strategy, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
...thoughtful principles, engaging stories, and clever examples... The book reinforces, synthesizes, and clarifies what it takes to become a great leader, by one who has done so over and over again.
—Dave Ulrich, Professor of Business, University of Michigan
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About the Authors
B. Joseph White is President of the University of Illinois. He was previously interim president of the University of Michigan and dean of its top-ranked business school for ten years. He has been a business executive and served as director or trustee of numerous large companies and several healthcare organizations. He is based in Urbana, Illinois.
Yaron Prywes is an organizational consultant with GHL Global Consulting, LLC, and a candidate for a Ph.D. in social-organizational psychology at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.
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