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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and provocative, 22 May 2011
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
I have always believed that no one can be a true leader unless his/her leadership is from within, naturally or by nurturing. This is the only way a leader can wisely use the authority which comes with his/her responsibility to drive results and take accountability for the outcomes, good or bad.
In reading Inside the Leader's mind, I have been amazed by the way Liz Mellon has described the above in the section dealing with the five steps to move upwards. "How to climb a corporate ladder" has never been so easily explained.
The self assessment questions provided at the end of each step are found to be useful for those who aspire to be true leaders.
What makes the book even more interesting is the fact that it not based on theoretical statements but on facts and practical inputs from 20 world-class leaders who have made it happen.
Inside the Leader's Mind is both inspiring and provocative.
One cannot act as a leader if he/she does not think as a leader. It is how we think that determines how we act.

Bernard Katompa,
CEO, Liberty Africa
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Candid, helpful and inspiring, 21 May 2011
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
Liz Mellon walks with us among dozens of leaders, whether sharing their most public moments or abiding their most unguarded confidence to report her observations and present a behavioural prescription, not for success in itself, but for a sublime personal fulfilment that generates success.

Mellon, the respected academic--and one of the best professors of leadership I know--manages to write in the voice of a thoughtfully investigative journalist, as we are introduced to some of the most interesting organizational leaders in the world. Her keenly empathetic ear helps makes their examples accessible and helpful to leaders at all stages of development. Mellon reveals the sets of common behaviours that we can all study, understand and emulate.

Inside the Leader's Mind has an engaging cadence that carries us from planting mangroves in Malaysia with a CEO during his corporate training program to the cloistered boardroom blunders of the Deepwater Horizon debacle. Throughout the journey, we meet leaders who fail with bravado, relearn with aplomb and rise back with selfless humility.

Inside the Leader's Mind articulates a vital catalyst for excellence in a chaotic business environment: ambiguity. As Mellon describes her "Five Ways of Thinking Like a Leader," the reader is counselled to face realities of solitude and bruising public accountability and, at the same time, the reader is enticed by the narratives of those who navigate the perils to find immense joy as the leaders they set out to be.

Mellon informs the learning community, the psychological academy and all business executives who seek advancement in the highest echelons of global organizations with casually insightful scenarios from topical interviews both recent and revisited from her decades of leadership study.

We see that among globally diverse leaders, the commonality is the unknown. The deck has been reshuffled as powerful nations are digging out from collapse and emerging nations have never seen such golden opportunities.

Challenging the notions of leadership that were responsible for the world's greatest financial crisis of a century, Inside the Leader's Mind offers a new path that is as rewarding as it is courageous.

The good news is: nobody has enough information, so here's your chance for greatness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Leader's Mind, 18 May 2011
By 
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
Let me declare an interest. I picked up this title as a mild sceptic. My shelves are loaded with similar sounding offerings - many with their spines uncracked. I'm putting this one aside now, coffee-stained, having been able to spend some absorbing time with a succession of fascinating characters inhabiting a rarefied corporate stratosphere. In its compact pages I found both space and oxygen enough to breathe and, importantly, to reflect a little myself.

The central construct of the book is powerful - the way leaders think defines them and drives all their complex behaviours - when we see their hands working and their lips moving, we need to follow their mind's dance. The essential substance of the book is well covered in reviews here and it its various promotional blurbs elsewhere. For me, the five ways of thinking like a leader fit snugly and possibly deliberately into the compass of a single hand. There's the 'Solid Core' of self-belief and values that for me is the thumb capable of touching each of the other four digits as they perform a constant waggle dance of their own. The middle and forefingers of 'No Safety Net' and 'Comfortable in Discomfort' are the pivotal hinge of the piece, V-shaped and directional whichever way you see them. The ring finger of 'On My Watch' is the conscience of the whole, while 'I Am the Enterprise' with it overtone of egotism, has to occupy the pinkie spot rather than centre stage - all inside my mind that is.

Like all good reads in this field, 'Inside The Leader's Mind' sows its own crop of follow-up questions. Which of Mellon's thoughtfully crafted phrases will achieve 'stickiness'? Which is her 'Tipping Point', her 'Good to Great' or 'Emotional Intelligence' signature? How many of her twenty business leaders will have crashed and burned in a few years' time? Am I more or less inclined to cut my CEO some slack, to want to spend time empathising with her existential dilemmas as a result of reading this sympathetic distillation? This is where Mellon's own voice as relentless interviewer, as wise counsellor and as steely corporate consultant is important to lifting the book as a whole from beyond the airport shelves of instant 'how-to' travel guides. You can almost hear each of her twenty principal respondents puffing out their cheeks at the end of an interview and musing aloud, 'Hmm, that was interesting?' I suspect that each is a more thoughtful, reflective leader as a result - and that is a result.

Mellon's book can be bought in haste and on impulse and then read and digested at leisure - like a wine, if it is truly made it will get richer, fuller and more subtle over time. I simply enjoyed it in the moment - with coffee.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true leader is different, 17 May 2011
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
Book Review: `Inside The Leader's Mind'
Liz Mellon, Prentice Hall, May 2011

Liz Mellon's recently released book is subtitled `Five ways to think like a leader'. It sounds as if it might read like a myriad other books on leadership; and indeed its professed purpose is to help the reader become a true business leader, something that will remain an imaginative dream for the vast majority of mortals. But here is the evidence that this one is just a touch different.

First, it avoids preaching. There are some disadvantages to taking an anecdotal route, with a swathe of examples and quotes from real and successful business lives which may or may not prove a point, but this is a fresher and more thought-provoking channel than a purely didactic approach.

Second, the text challenges the reader in person to take the test in each of the five areas, and to recognize the difference between a highly effective executive and a fully capable leader. It is a call to honesty in self-assessment which is both unfrightening and potentially very revealing: if you duck the honesty bit, you know you are failing the test anyway.

Third, it describes regions of thinking about leadership which the subjects of her interviews themselves regard as interesting and new. This is relatively untrodden territory.

Here are the five ways to think like a leader:
- >Realise you have no safety net. You are on your own;

- >Live with uncertainty to the extent that you are comfortable in discomfort;

- > Have a clear sense of purpose in your solid core;

- >Be aware of your responsibility as a leader for linking the past, present and future of your organisation, which is evolving on your watch;

- >You personify what the enterprise stands for and maintain the energy for full commitment. You are the enterprise.

Life and human variety are not tidy and Ms Mellon does not insist on painting these five concepts in clearly separate colours. Having no safety net is uncomfortable; the solid core pervades everything; integrating the past into the future makes you, temporally and temporarily, the enterprise. But the language is uncomplicated and the reader is carried along a natural river of revealed insight. It is an enjoyable journey.

But will it make you a leader? The book makes no claims, because it is up to you. And it makes no false promises, because throughout the text there are hints of a very important distinction between rare leaders and mere mortals, that the former start with the hidden advantage of a strong instinctive capacity to move to the front, take on the risks and hit the right decision spots. This inner compass is explained in the section on the solid core, and so the book does not skate past it. But it suggests that the people the author is really addressing are those who have already discovered an inner sense of purpose.

Even for them, though, there are lessons to be learnt here; and the lightness of the presentation is an attractive camouflage for the seriousness of the subject. It carries a value way beyond the world of commerce.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership development must change - here's how..., 9 Jun. 2011
By 
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
A colleague of mine who specialises in leadership development is fond of the following maxim: "If the world has changed, then leadership must change too. The world has changed." If how we lead, and even what a leader needs to be, has changed, then how we approach the critical task of developing leaders must also be overhauled.

Liz Mellon has provided an excellent roadmap to help us with this task. She suggests five mind states that are critical for leaders in the 21st century. The first two are related to the globalised, interconnected, hyperactive context that is new to us: no safety net, and being comfortable with discomfort. The third mind state deals with the person, and I couldn't agree with her more. Leadership is much more than what you do, it's primarily about who you are. Liz calls this solid core. The final two mind states relate to the institution which you lead: on my watch, and I am the enterprise.

There is a logic and flow, and progression, through these five steps. And these are just the start - because they're just about how a leader thinks. But they're a vital start.

With an engaging writing style, excellent examples and case studies, insightful interviews, and the perspective of someone who's clearly been doing this well for a long time, this book is at the same time an easy and challenging read. Easy in that Liz has made it accessible, engaging and filled with examples that connect. Challenging because it asks you to examine yourself, and pushes you to change how you think about leadership.

Highly recommended for leaders and those who need to develop leaders.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh thinking - the key is how leaders think!, 31 May 2011
By 
Robert Kaiser (Greensboro, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
When it comes to leadership, is there nothing new under the sun? Yes, there is! Dr. Mellon has put her finger on an overlooked aspect of the alchemy of outstanding leadership: the unique manner in which great leaders think. She correctly starts by noting all the hubbub leadership researchers and theorists have made over the things great leaders do--how they behave. But this exhilarating read delves deeper and gets beneath the behavior. By plumbing the depths of the minds of 20 accomplished leaders at the top of their games, Dr. Mellon has distilled the five distinct ways in which their minds work in ways that differ from the merely very good leaders.

This book will show you that outstanding leaders (1) dare to imagine the unimagined, (2) keep their composure in a sea of ambiguity, (3) let their core values guide key decisions, (4) care deeply about what happens long after they are gone, and (5) are at once humble and yet understand how to onlookers outside they are the organization.

Don't be deceived by how easily this breezy book reads. Peppered with quotable quotes that get to the nub of profound insight after profound insight, Inside the Leader's Mind teaches you how to think like a world class leader in the words of 20 world class leaders. These vital lessons that can only come from decades of experience are neatly synthesized, integrated, and refracted through Dr. Mellon's own creative thinking and served up in a pithy, actionable format that promotes self-examination and self-discovery. Equal parts description of a missing facet of the riddle of great leadership and prescription for you to create your own solution to the riddle, this book is a welcomed addition to the field and has a lot to offer both students and practitioners of leadership.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Leader's Mind - Dr Liz Mellon, 20 May 2011
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
"Inside the Leader's Mind" is written by a scientist-practitioner, Dr. Liz Mellon, Executive Director at Duke Corporate Education's offices in the U.K. This book is fascinating. What she identified, after working with the who's who in the senior leadership of such global companies as HSBC, Heidrick and Struggles, PwC, Save the Children, and Thomson Reuters, are five commonalities in the thought processes of highly effective leaders regardless of the type of organization where they work, or the continent where their organization's headquarters is located. This is gold dust. Not only does Liz explain what is going on inside their heads. She also guides leaders in how to develop in this way.
Each chapter is devoted to each thought process. Each thought process is explained in memorable, meaningful language. Each thought process is explained as a step that can be taken to move upward in an organization.
Following the introduction, chapter 2 begins with the thought provoking title of "No Safety Net". To become a member of the senior management team, one must embrace risk. This is especially true at the level of President or CEO. "It's a high wire act, balancing fear and adrenalin. Except that, unlike the circus performer, you have no safety net, no one to catch you if you fall." How does one develop the confidence to live and thrive on a high wire?
Chapter 3, "Comfortable in Discomfort" emphasizes the problem that, in many instances, there is no right answer to the issues that require a leader's decision. Making matters worse, these decisions typically cannot be delayed. What do effective leaders do?
The fourth chapter focuses on the third step, having a "Solid Core", that is a clear purpose, ensuring that what is said and done by you as a leader is consistent with your organization's vision, mission, and strategy. How do outstanding leaders do this in an ambiguous, complex world?
Step four, the fifth chapter, is entitled, "On My Watch." This step requires leaders to live in and connect to three time zones for their organization, the past, the present, and the future. How do leaders connect the past to the present, let alone the future without becoming a prisoner of it?
The final step, "I am the Enterprise" discusses the necessities of living and modeling the organization's values. But if this is done well, and it is by the leaders described in this chapter, how do they know when to let go, when to hand the reins to a successor? The answers to this and the preceding questions are documented throughout this book.
Among the book's many strengths is that "answers" are not presented as a behavioral recipe, or a cookie cutter for success. Rather, the book is a "menu". This enables readers to choose the steps that are appropriate for them, and ignore those that might be inappropriate in their circumstances. That being said, there may be one or more examples that do not ring true for everyone, but it is hard to take issue with any one of the five thought processes that Dr. Mellon has identified.

Gary Latham, Author
"Becoming the Evidence Based Manager"
Davies Black
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4.0 out of 5 stars Think about how you think, 19 May 2011
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
Liz Mellon has done this book right way. First she talked with and watched a lot of top leaders. Then she worked out what they were doing that was different from the rest, and what mindsets enabled that. And only then did she take the framework of five ways of thinking and carry out focused interviews. This is how reality based theory gets formed and stays practical.

The stories the leaders tell are authentic and instructional. Above all, they show the range of observable behaviour that may result from a similar mindset - they show how one must dig down beneath behaviour to find the repeated patterns. It is crucial that we see the range of what comes out of similar mindsets. I work with leaders form countries around the world, and each has their logics - the logic of the international business world in which they compete, the logic of the group of top leaders that forms their community, the logic of their culture of origin and so on. And out of these logics comes their behaviour - which is and needs to be different to suit their situations, their companies, their personalities, their cultures. But the mindset beneath it, the attitude toward what it means to be a leader, this shares many characteristics across national boundaries.

A great strength of Inside the Leader's Mind is that Liz Mellon lets us hear many of the leaders' voices directly. We can get a feeling for how they reflect and remember and process. There is also good learning in that.

It will be interesting to follow up on whether some mindsets are more prevalent in some cultures than others, whether some nation's leaders add another mindset, or others downplay one represented here. But surely the core of these ways of thinking is key wherever the leader is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The View From the Top, 12 May 2011
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
At last count there were over two million scholarly publications on the topic of Leadership. Some of these are written by people who have practical knowledge of leadership but little conceptual understanding. Other authors may employ a very impressive set of tools but have very little practical experience and come across as very dry. Most have neither practical nor conceptual merit.

Liz Mellon's book "Inside the Leader's Mind - Five Ways to Think Like a Leader" combines both practical experience as well as solid conceptual understanding, making the book stand out in its class. The book is solidly focused on the corporate world and most of its examples and context come from that domain.

Mellon points to five behaviors that leaders exhibit. The first is the ability to "operate without a safety net", the second is "comfortable in discomfort", the third is a "solid core", the fourth is "ability to simultaneously dwell in the past present and the future" and the fifth is "I am the enterprise".

The first two behaviors pertain to the ability that explorers and poets have of being comfortable in environments and situations which have no precedent. The third behaviour points to a the need for a moral compass, so relevant in today in an environment where there is so much of moral relativism in the corporate world - a feeling that everyone is doing it so I too can engage in questionable behaviors. The fourth is an interesting behaviour - what in India is called an attribute of seers -"trikaldarshi" or the ability to operate in the past, the present and the future. The fifth behaviour is identifying with the long term good of the corporation, where one takes decision today by looking at the long term future of the corporation. The time span relevant here is a minimum of five to ten years. How many individuals are able to think this far out in an age where CEOs live and die by quarterly results? It is very difficult to structure such behaviour merely by the use of incentives. This is a domain where a strong corporate culture and promotion from within become extremely important. Legacies have a meaning and resonance in precisely this context.

Mellon closes the book with a self-assessment questionnaire that focuses on the five behaviors above.

For anyone who is interested in leadership, especially in leadership at the helm of large modern organizations, there are few books as engagingly written and useful as this one.

Go buy your copy, mark it, chew and digest it. I know I did!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Credible, 14 July 2011
This review is from: Inside the Leader's Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader (Financial Times Series) (Paperback)
Among the slew of leadership books that flood book stores every year, there are very few that stand out as being credible, intelligent and readable at the same time. Liz has managed just that and much more. Her insights into how successful leaders operate range from the timeless to the very contemporary, and it is all written in a sensitive narrative that lifts up each page. "Inside the Leader's Mind" is an invaluable contribution to literature on leadership and ranks among the top few leadership books to have been published in the last five years; not since Jim Collins's work in "Good to Great"have I come across a book on leadership that has grabbed my attention so completely.
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