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5.0 out of 5 stars It's not easy., 3 May 2014
This review is from: Centered Leadership: A Field Guide for Leading with Positive Impact and Resilience (Hardcover)
Leading is not easy.Taking time to reflect, review, and roll out your vision is a challenge. This book will help you. a lot. easy to read too.

Darren Kelly
HELLO PROFIT - Outsell & Outnegotiate everyone with WOW
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5.0 out of 5 stars How to become a leader "for all seasons", 26 April 2014
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Centered Leadership: A Field Guide for Leading with Positive Impact and Resilience (Hardcover)
While reading a previously published book, How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life (2011), co-authored by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston, with substantial assistance provided by Geoffrey Lewis, I noted that remarkable men lead others in much the same way that, as Barsh and Cranston explain, remarkable women do: by leveraging their talent, desire to lead, and tolerance for change within all areas of their lives.

Barsh and Cranston characterize this as "Centered Leadership" within five separate but interdependent dimensions: Meaning, Framing, Connecting, Engaging, and Energizing. They devote a separate chapter to each of the five. However they are named and defined, these are areas in which aspiring leaders are challenged to attract the support of others. The greater challenge is to sustain that support. What Barsh and Cranston share in this book is what they learned from five years of rigorous and extensive research that involved hundreds of remarkable women in all manner of leadership positions.

In this book, co-authored with Johanne Lavoie, Barsh develops these and other insights in much greater detail, drawing upon a wealth of real-world experience that Lavoie has accumulated to complement what Barsh has encountered during her career at McKinsey & Company. Their objective is to help as many executives as possible to become a centered leader -- or a more effective one -- at a time when the global marketplace is more uncertain, more volatile, and moving at a faster pace than at any prior time that I can remember.

Here's what Barsh and Lavoie have to say:

"Our approach helps leaders gain greater self-awareness and self-reflection. With those, comes greater choice of thought and action. In effect, these men and women [while developing the capabilities of centered leadership] learn to create their own purpose, with greater clarity, to address broader perspectives and flexibility in action. Boldly, they step up and into their full leadership potential to make a profound difference in their organization, community, even world."

They make skillful use of the journey metaphor throughout their lively and eloquent narrative, strongly urging their readers to embrace change by being willing to change their assumptions and premises about change. This is what Gandhi had in mind when suggesting, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." Centered leaders are the most effective change agents because they are constantly alert for indications of what they must change about themselves. They must rigorously strengthen and consistently sustain whichever competences and capabilities they need to lead with purpose, clarity, and impact. Only by managing themselves effectively can they can manage others.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Barsh and Lavoi's coverage.

o The route to Centered Leadership, and, Five Parts make a whole (Pages 3-7)
o The road ahead (8-10)
o Setting agreements to create a safe environment for learning (24-25)
o The roots of meaning (35-41)
o Finding your strengths (48-54)
o Wangechi Mutu discovers (lives into) her strengths (55-58)
o How Geoffrey Canada implemented his commitments (74-76)
o Heading down the spiral to rumination (82-84)
o Mellody Hobson's "darkest place" (98-100)
o How Zoe Yujnovich pauses naturally while embracing change (106-108)
o How Howard Gilligan uses his growth mindset to reframes opportunities to learn (119-120)
Note: Carol Dweck shares brilliant insights about this mindset in her eponymous book.
o How John Donahoe and his sponsors make a difference by building trust (163-167)
o Fabrizio Freda's stories about "the magic of people" (188-193)
o Jamil Mahuad creates belonging with a shared sense of trust (234-239)
o How Rebecca Blumenstein uses recovery to enjoy chaos (249-253)
o How and Why Terry Lundgren overcomes setbacks and "bounces higher" (258-261)

In the final chapter, Joanna Barsh and Johanne Lavoie provide "Your Learning Plan," explaining how and why it is a way to organize one's self-reflection, commitments, and how to track one's progress. "Think of it as your 'field work' -- practicing in real life what you've learned. But lest you feel like this is some sort of final exam, we assure you that your plan is all about learning. No one (including you) judges it. So be honest and reasonable [but also ambitious] about your commitments. Every action should be specific, observable, measurable, and just outside your comfort zone. Set a realistic time frame -- be it three months, six months, or a year."

Although lined space is in the book (Pages 284-286), I suggest having a lined notebook near at hand while reading the book and especially when formulating and then revising details of the plan. Here's another suggestion: Keep in mind an aphorism from ancient China: "The best time to plant a tree is 100 years ago. The next best time is now." If you are determined to become a centered leader, or become a much more effective one, let your journey of discovery, for personal growth and professional development, begin now.
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