LEADERSHIP ON THE LINE: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading

Ronald A. Heifetz, Author, Marty Linsky, Joint Author . Harvard Business School $27.50 (224p) ISBN 978-1-57851-437-3

Recognizing that it can be both lonely and difficult at the top, the authors—faculty members of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government—set out to lend emotional and practical support. Whether leaders represent a local planning board or a Fortune 500 company, they "live dangerously," say the authors, "because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear—their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking—with nothing more to offer perhaps than a possibility." To that end, Heifetz and Linsky offer useful strategies leaders can employ, such as building political constituencies, trying to orchestrate the inevitable conflict, and forcing those who cause problems to actually solve the problems. Indeed, the book does dwell on the negative aspects of leadership, serving more as a troubleshooting guide than a how-to leadership handbook. Some of the examples are informal (e.g., the 1994 Chicago Bulls), while others are more traditional (e.g., city planning and politics). Showing a sympathetic side, Heifetz and Linsky offer tactics to help leaders not to take conflict personally. Remember, they counsel, you are more than your job. This book will undoubtedly provide leaders and managers comfort on days when everything seems to be going wrong in their department or organization. (May 23)

Reviewed on: 04/08/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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