The Inner Work of Leaders: Leadership as a Habit of Mind

Barbara Mackoff, Author, Gary Wenet, Author, Gary Wenet, Joint Author
Barbara Mackoff, Author, Gary Wenet, Author, Gary Wenet, Joint Author AMACOM/American Management Association $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8144-0590-1
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For psychologists Wenet and Mackoff, leadership is not a role or a set of strategies. ""Instead,"" they argue, ""it is a point of view that begins with the inner work of integrating and translating past relationships and experiences into powerful habits of mind."" In this intriguing if flawed volume, the authors demonstrate how successful business people use ""inner work"" (a process of directing their reactions to complex and challenging situations) to overcome obstacles and advance their careers. Drawing on interviews with 65 successful executives in many different fields, they provide profiles that show how each person's family influences, role models and life experiences have affected their ability to perform this inner work. For example, Shelley Lazarus, the CEO of advertising giant Ogilvie & Mather, exemplifies the habit of ""attunement"" to others' strengths. Lazarus, who credits her parents for cherishing her individuality, aims to make employees feel ""at home."" She once let a creative director work from his Texas ranch because that's where he did his best work. Though the authors provide brief explanations for the various habits of leaders, they rely primarily on the profiles to convey their applications. However, this strategy backfires because the profiles are so diverse that the process of inner work is not fully explained. After completing the book, readers may remember some anecdotes, but they aren't likely to have learned enough about the principles of inner work to apply it to their own professional lives. (Sept.)
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