I really liked this book. It addresses the elephant that has been in the room for some time. Everyone knows that effective leadership makes the difference and yet we continually see the same issues time and again, where leaders are under the spotlight. The book makes the case for, and illustrates, a more holistic view of leadership that encourages leaders to become more conscious of their role requirements and impact in five key areas:

  • Creating and using a compelling vision to make sense of the business and distil meaning;
  • Influencing appropriately to shape the organisation in line with the vision;
  • Modelling appropriate behaviours and skills and setting the standards;
  • Building strong networks and effective relationships with internal and external customers;
  • Fostering collaborative leadership.

Containing good, solid references throughout, this is a comprehensive book which provides a fresh perspective, and illustrates what the best do well to develop competitive advantage through their leadership approach. The learning suggestions are practical and insightful. The book brings together the best thinking on this topic to provide leaders with a practical, insightful and informative toolkit.

The book is certainly comprehensive in terms of leadership models and frameworks but I also really like the integration of examples and stories. I love the idea of sense making conversations and wished leaders would find time to do this more, perhaps using Advocacy and Inquiry for skilful and balanced conversations. I also liked the detail on building a vision, the resource strategies, and the section on leading with service which links to the importance of building trust and encouraging engagement – currently one of the biggest issues in leadership.

I believe that climate is where leaders need to focus. Climate is something they directly impact and which drives performance (self, team and customer). While culture is so big, and difficult for a leader or even a community of leaders to change quickly, climate is local and is driven by what leaders do. This links to the section on leading with purpose, which relates to the leader’s need to set a strong personal climate, in order to influence the team and customer climate. Interestingly, research has shown that customers can sense climate within two seconds of interacting with a team member, you cannot conceal it.

David Robertson, Vice President and Executive Consultant, The Forum Corporation (EMEA)

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