"A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm." -Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People Many leaders today are frustrated by their apparent loss of power--the members of their organisations no longer follow them. But many followers are equally frustrated--the heads of their organisation appear to have lost their ability to lead! This paradox is only intensifying as we enter the new millennium. The explosion of information and our ability to transmit it almost instantaneously around the world has been both a blessing and a curse. It has empowered individuals as never before, creating a new society of autonomous men and women who are demanding a voice in the governance of their organisations. Leadership: Myths and Realities examines some of the roots of the paradox--the myths that have caused disappointment, cynicism, loss of faith, and virtual anarchy. Is there hope for our organizations? The answer is yes, but only if both leaders and followers are willing to accept new roles (or resurrect some forgotten roles!). Followers must abandon blind response to edicts from above and a belief in the omnipotence and omniscience of their leaders--they must participate in the leadership process. And leaders must behave in ways that encourage others to follow. Leadership: Myths and Realities explores the concept and practice of leadership. It draws on both contemporary data and classical writings, examining the role of leaders, the qualities and skills that both leaders and followers must have, and whether leaders can, indeed, be made as well as born. While the author rejects the great man model (leaders are born) espoused 200 years ago by English historian Thomas Carlyle, and also German philosopher Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's assertion that leadership is a mirage, he does not propose that we can all learn to be leaders. The hypothesis: those who aspire to leadership must develop certain qualities, hone a strong set of skills, and ready themselves to rise to the challenge. In the text that follows, the author tackles the important issues and explore the three critical dimensions of leadership: reinforcing values, developing vision, and building community. Leadership: Myths and Realities presents a guide for effective leadership and explains the essential qualities and skills that any aspiring leader must develop. Because the succession of leadership is so critical today, the book also addresses the corollary challenge of ensuring continuity of effective leadership. The concluding chapters explore how knowing one's self and ruling one's self are the unavoidable precursors to ruling others effectively. Part I, Chapter 1 presents to the reader an overview of the leadership field and identifies the five myths that distort our view of what a leader is and what a leader does. It begins to lay out the leader's mission and the critical nature of their relationship to the followers. In Chapter 2, the author introduces some of the critical leadership issues. What is a leader? Where do they come from and why do we need them? The author defines the unique role of leaders and how it differs from the role of managers. The chapter continues with a survey of the historical theories of leadership. Part II begins a presentation of the systemic approach to leading. In Chapter 3 the author elucidates the first challenge to the leader -- developing values, purpose, and meaning for the organization and its members. Chapter 4 continues with a discussion of how leaders set direction for the organization. The importance of a vision and the essential contribution of scenario technology are discussed at length. This takes us inevitably to an explanation of how leaders select effective strategies. Chapter 5 completes the triad of leadership roles with an analysis of how leaders must build a coherent community and a nurturing culture. The discussion reveals how a catalytic style is essential to achieving alignment. In Part III the author approaches the eternal question of how to become a leader. Chapter 6 defines for us the five hallmarks of effective leaders-- the virtues that all great leaders possess. In Chapter 7 we read about the skills that must complement the leader's qualities if he or she is to succeed. The ultimate challenge is to manage the change, complexity, and conflict that beset all our contemporary organizations. Finally, in Chapter 8, we converge on the controversial question: can leadership be taught? The author's answer is a conditional yes--but not by embracing the conventional pedagogic approaches. Although skills can be taught, the fully developed qualities necessary for effective leadership are rare. The book concludes in Chapter 9 with a leadership diagnostic and an action plan for aspiring leaders: what they need to do for their organization and what they need to do for themselves. Leadership: Myths and Realities is a primer for any of us who lead or who hope to lead. The path is arduous but potentially rewarding for those who have the vision and courage to begin it. As the 15th- century Samurai Miyamoto Mushashi advised: "Step by step, walk the thousand mile road.
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"Step by step, walk the thousand-mile road" The dearth of effective leaders is the anathema of the times. Organizations, societies and countries are experiencing the absence of effective leaders and increasingly getting bogged down by problems, due to the inability to develop viable and effective solutions. Leadership: Myths and Realities gives a fresh perspective on leadership and shatters all the myths and misconceptions that confound the study of leadership. Drawing heavily from contemporary data and classical writings, the book examines the role of leaders and highlights the qualities and skills that they must possess to find fulfillment in their endeavors. The book explores the three critical dimensions of leadership: reinforcing values, developing vision and building community. It presents guidelines for effective leadership and explains the essential qualities and skills that any aspiring leader must develop. Leadership: Myths and Realities is a must for leaders and aspiring leaders or anyone with a vision and courage; who is willing to tread an arduous road toward fulfillment.About the Author:
Robert J. Allio is the founder of Robert J. Allio & Associates, Inc., a firm that has helped executives develop leadership skills since 1979. He has consulted with over 100 diverse companies in North America, Europe and Asia. His programs have been sponsored by the Conference Board, Business Week, the American Management Association, and major organizations in the public and private sector. Dr. Allio's corporate career includes senior operating experience with General Electric, Noranda Mines, and Westinghouse Electric. He serves on the Board of Directors for several private firms. His academic background includes positions as Dean of the School of Management at Rensselaer and Professor of Management at Babson College. He is a Co-Director of the Santa Fe Center for Leadership Development. Dr. Allio has written extensively on strategic management and leadership. His last book, The Practical Strategist, presents a contemporary approach to corporate strategy.
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