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Named one of 100 Leadership & Success Books to Read in a Lifetime by Amazon Editors
To lead is to live dangerously. It's romantic and exciting to think of leadership as all inspiration, decisive action, and rich rewards, but leading requires taking risks that can jeopardize your career and your personal life. It requires putting yourself on the line, disturbing the status quo, and surfacing hidden conflict. And when people resist and push back, there's a strong temptation to play it safe. Those who choose to lead plunge in, take the risks, and sometimes get burned. But it doesn't have to be that way say renowned leadership authorities Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky. In Leadership on the Line, they show how it's possible to make a difference without getting "taken out" or pushed aside. They present everyday tools that give equal weight to the dangerous work of leading change and the critical importance of personal survival. Through vivid stories from all walks of life, the authors present straightforward strategies for navigating the perilous straits of leadership. Whether parent or politician, CEO or community activist, this practical book shows how you can exercise leadership and survive and thrive to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
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Climbing Mount Everest: dangerous. Hitchhiking in Colombia: very dangerous. Leading through change: perilous. Perilous but possible, say Heifetz and Linsky in their encouragingly practical guide to putting yourself on the line and negotiating the hazards of leadership. As the authors acknowledge, many leadership books are "all about inspiration, but downplay the perspiration." This one doesn't. Leadership is always a risky business, but those risks can be understood and reduced. Effective leadership comes from doing more than the technical work of routine management; it involves adaptive work on the part of the leader, and a willingness to confront and disturb people, promote their resourcefulness, and engage their ability to adjust to new realities. But adaptive change always encounters resistance. Heifetz and Linsky examine four forms of resistance--marginalization, diversion, attack, and seduction--before presenting a number of practical resistance-response skills to nurture and employ. Some are fairly obvious (like developing and maintaining perspective, and holding steady in the midst of change), and others more complex (like thinking politically when dealing with friends, foes, and fence sitters), but shimmering nuggets of insight and practical wisdom can be found in each. The dangers of leadership also spring from within, however, and the book's final section addresses ways to recognize and manage competing "hungers" and learn to distinguish one's roles from one's self. The authors' points are illustrated by the experiences of leaders from all walks of life, making this a useful and inspiring manual for anyone hoping to put themselves on the line and make a difference in the lives of others. --S. KetchumFrom the Author:
This book is about the personal challenges and dangers of exercising leadership. We wrote it after a half-century of teaching and consulting between us. We have worked in medicine, law, music, journalism and politics and we have been working together for some fifteen years. We have heard literally thousands of stories from people, some of them at the top of large organizations, some in the middle, some on the outside. Many of their stories come from professional experience, but many come from folks’ civic and personal lives, as well. What these stories have told us is that leadership is difficult and dangerous, but also that there are many powerful and practical ideas that can reduce the risks; moreover, exercising leadership is worth doing because it adds significance and meaning to your life. This book grew out of their stories.
We use these stories to illustrate both the mistakes you can easily make and the ways you can avoid making them. How do you put yourself out there without you becoming the issue? How do you stay in a leadership role, asking the difficult questions, pointing out the gap between espoused values and behavior, keeping uncomfortable subjects on the table or doing yourself in? How do you keep your own spirit alive when those threatened are attacking you and some of your allies are abandoning you?
Finally, this book is about why exercising leadership is so important, not only for the groups, organizations and communities you are trying to affect, but also for you, yourself, in the significance and meaning in your own life. Our deepest aspirations for Leadership on the Line are that it will provide both practical advice and inspiration, so that you will have better tools and means to lead, protect yourself, keep your spirit alive, and celebrate the fruits of your labor.
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