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Building the Bridge as You Walk on it: A Guide for Leading Change (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership) Hardcover – 11 May 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (11 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078797112X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787971120
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 627,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


“Quinn’s work captures a crucial truth about great leadership―that it is about who we are and not what we do. In facing our fears and harnessing our uniqueness, we bring forth the capacity for inspired leadership and for enduring change. Robert Quinn is a gifted storyteller. This is his best book to date.”
―Peter J. Frost, Edgar F. Kaiser Professor of Organizational Behavior, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, and author of Toxic Emotions at Work

“Quinn′s fundamental state of leadership is fundamentally uncommon. Rather than focusing on how to lead others, he has served up authentic insights on how leaders can best lead themselves.”
―Jim Haduan, CEO, Root Learning, Inc.

“Read this book only if you are willing to address the fear that keeps you from leadership, and from profound change in yourself and others.”
―Allan R. Cohen, Distinguished Professor of Global Leadership, Babson College, and coauthor of Power–Up: Transforming Organizations Through Shared Leadership

“Quinn takes us to the chasm where deep change is lived and led―then guides us over it.  Practical scholarship. Masterful teaching.”
―Philip Mirvis, coauthor of To the Desert and Back: The Story of One of the Most Dramatic Business Transformations on Record

“A gem of a book, as wise and practical a guide on individual and organizational transformation as you’ll find anywhere.”
―Warren Bennis, university professor, University of Southern California and coauthor of Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders

“The process of becoming a leader or revitalizing yourself is chaotic and frightening. Through many inspirational stories in this book, readers will find the courage to embrace a truly transformative change.”
―Richard E. Boyatzis, professor and chair of the Department of 0rganizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University, and coauthor of Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

“Prepare yourself for a journey into intellectual, emotional, and spiritual integrity―a journey this will span the remaining course of one′s life.”
―Allen C. Bluedorn, author, The Human Organization of Time

“Bob Quinn makes exquisite use of real life experiences in such a way that his book is engaging as well as profound. It speaks to me directly.”
―Ricardo B. Levy, founder, chairman of the board, Catalytica Energy Systems, Inc.

“This book is not about superheroes, but about how each one of us how the power to create positive change – if only we are willing to see and step into our own capabilities.”
―Professor Sim B Sitkin, director, Fuqua–Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics, Duke University

“For someone who has struggled for 25 years with change personally and professionally―as an internal change agent,  external consultant, and academic―Building the Bridge as You Walk on It provides a profound integration of the self/other/organizational contexts and a timely reminder that all change is self–change.”
―Mike McGrath, vice president of consulting services, Executive Development Associates

“I picked up "Building the Bridge..." on a gray, rainy, California morning thinking I would peruse a few pages before a nap. I laid the manuscript down only when the last page had been turned many hours later. No nap! Instead a bright awakening to insight and wisdom regarding leadership that Robert Quinn lucidly structures through stories carefully paired with precise conceptualization.”
―Andre′ L. Delbecq, Thomas J. and Kathleen L. McCarthy  University Professor, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

“Quinn details the practices to follow in the journey towards the fundamental state of leadership. Leaders of corporations, governments, nonprofits, community action, families, academic departments–all find resonance with this book!”
―Laurie N. DiPadova–Stocks, founding director, Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, Northern Kentucky University

“This book provides a guide for change that leaders at all levels of the organization can understand and use. More importantly it will help them become people who really like themselves. Because they live and act from principle, they will not have to worry about the craziness of organizations and life.”
―Professor Lloyd Baird, director, the Leadership Institute, Boston University

“With more and more people reading this book the notion of resistance to change may gradually fade. Quinn’s attractive concept of positive deviancy is not only an antidote to resistance but a way of thinking and acting that embraces change.”
―W. Warner Burke, Edward Lee Thorndike Professor of Psychology and Education; Teachers College, Columbia University

“Effective leadership is crucial for successful organizational change, but the person as leader is often ignored in discussions of change. This wonderful book places the person of the leader front and center. It invites, encourages and inspires its readers to find in themselves the leadership of which they are capable.”
―Jean M. Bartunek, professor of organization studies, Boston College

“This book highlighted for me that leadership is an endogenous development, not an exogenous event. The most effective leaders are those whose who remain coachable themselves, and focus on developing themselves.”
―Bert Whitehead, author, Facing Financial Dysfunction: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Money

“If you or your family or your organization are in pain, and you want the pain to stop but it won’t, read this moving, action–oriented book. ”
―Bill Torbert, author, Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership

“Robert Quinn′s book is fascinating, I wish it′s valuable insights had been available to me when I lead a major bank. It is so easy to glide along in your comfort zone. I was particularly taken by the quote, ‘real leadership is about moving forward in faith and doing so requires both head and heart.’”
―Jack Hoag, director, First Hawaiian Bank and BancWest Corp

“Bringing integrity and humanity clearly into leadership study, Quinn′s work recognizes that leadership is not a mere fragment of life–not something you leave behind as you close your office door–and not organizationally constructed.  It is truly for all seasons and settings, integrally woven into our lives and psyche, grounded our best selves.”
―Laurie N. DiPadova–Stocks, Ph.D., founding director, Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, Northern Kentucky University

“Bob Quinn makes exquisite use of real life experiences in such a way that his book is engaging as well as profound. It speaks to me directly.”
―Ricardo B. Levy, founder, chairman of the board, Catalytica Energy Systems, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

When it was first published, Robert Quinn’s best–selling book Deep Change revealed that anyone can become a leader of change, but to do so requires the transformation of self. The book struck a chord with thousands, and inspired readers wrote Quinn to share their stories of how his book guided them on their journeys to deep change.

Building the Bridge As You Walk On It tells the personal stories of people who have embraced deep change and inspired author Robert Quinn to take his concept one step further and develop a new model of leadership–"the fundamental state of leadership." The exploration of this transformative state is at the very heart of the book. Quinn shows how anyone can enter the fundamental state of leadership by engaging in the eight practices that center on the theme of ever–increasing integrity–reflective action, authentic engagement, appreciative inquiry, grounded vision, adaptive confidence, detached interdependence, responsible freedom, and tough love. After each chapter, Quinn challenges you to assess yourself with respect to each practice and to formulate a strategy for personal growth.

Building the Bridge As You Walk On It emphasizes that developing leaders is not a simple matter of imparting a set of concepts or reaching into a toolkit of strategies and behaviors. To become a leader requires engagement in the process of deep change in oneself, thereby inviting others to do the same. Once this process is in motion, we truly begin to transform one another to become the type of leaders we strive to be.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've just finished reading this book and here's what I think.
Among the reviews of the book on the dust cover, Warren Bennis writes, "This is a gem of a book." I humbly agree with him. I think its up there in my top ten business books.
I'd read Quinn's earlier book, "Deep Change", where he explores the choice for individuals and organisations between 'Slow Death' and 'Deep Change', and where choosing the latter it is courageous and feels like 'walking naked into the land of uncertainty'.
This new work picks up this theme and explores what Quinn calls 'The Fundamental State of Leadership'. There were several aspects of Quinn's thinking that I found very helpful. He threads his argument throughout with stories, most of which illustrate ordinary people entering this heroic 'Fundamental State of Leadership' in different circumstances. From these stories the author shows how all truly effective change must start within the leader themselves; that this state means putting the good of the organisation before themselves, and how, in some stories, the leader 'loses' but their influence goes on to infect successful transition in the organisation.
From this Quinn develops his model of the Fundamental State of Leadership as something that:
1. Has ever-increasing integrity at its core, with its corollary of reducing our hypocrisy - our 'integrity gaps'. (Quinn asserts that we are all hypocrites(!).)
2. Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership can be through living any one (ultimately all) of eight paradoxes: Grounded Vision, Reflective Action, Responsible Freedom (as opposed to Foolish or selfish Freedom), Detached Interdependence, Appreciative Inquiry, Authentic Engagement, Tough Love and Adaptive Confidence.
For me, this all has the ring of truth about it.
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 24 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary Individual, Extraordinary Leader 21 May 2004
By Tanya Boyer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
While this is the third book written by Quinn in a trilogy on the process of helping individuals and organizations to make deep change, I happened to read this one first. I then eagerly read his other two books.
It is human nature to find a comfort zone and then try our hardest to stay in that zone. We feel safe, secure, and in control in our comfort zone. Sometimes, however, we try so hard to stay in the zone that we exert more energy than it would take to change. So why not change? Change is difficult and necessitates giving up power. Prior to reading the book I felt it was almost admitting failure. Change can be especially difficult when we are acting in the role of leader, and trying to move a large group of individuals toward the fulfillment of a goal or vision. How, then, do we lead and manage change? How do we transform an organization?
Leadership is a state of being, which Quinn calls the "fundamental state of leadership". This is a state in which we are open to personal change, and consequently draw others to us by our change in behavior. In the book Quinn gives a detailed explanation of this new model of leaderhip and thoroughly examines the personal nature of change. He gives examples ordinary people who have led extraordinary change efforts. These stories motivate, they bring heroic efforts within reach of the ordinary individual.
Executive, middle manager, associate, student, father or mother - all will benefit from this book.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It will become a classic 24 Nov. 2006
By Mat633 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Base on my understanding of the American society, I am not surprised that this book, like Quinn's previous book "Deep Change," doesn't get as many reviews as it deserves, but I am confident that this book, and Qinn's trilogy, will become classic down the line.

This book would seem esoteric for the society that is addicted to data and techniques, thinking that what we need is more information and skills in order to lead. It does require the reader to be more mature to understand the content at a deeper level. In my case, my understanding of Systems Theory helps a great deal. In fact, this book fills the gap that is missing in the systemic leadership books that I have read.

Edwin H. Friedman's A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix is one of the books that I like best on leadership and systems theory. However, even though it describes the sickness of the societies, organizations, families, etc. extremely well, it lacks the recommendation for the leader to develop the systemic quality to transform the society, organization, or family he or she is leading. Quinn's books fill the gap right on the spot.

As a Chinese living in America for 16 years, my concern is seeing the rampant reductionism in this society that seems to be leading America to gradually becoming like a third world nation that I escaped from. Books like this, though few, give me hope. America has a bright future if more leaders can chew this book, and its two siblings.
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What to Think?? Change or Bridge Building? 1 Mar. 2005
By Terry Tucker - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is deeply esoteric, and if you have not had the benefit of reading his first book, Deep Change, then you may find yourself wondering what the key elements to change and bridge building are. Although the author offers pearls of wisdom, they are hidden and dispersed throughout the chapters. Don't expect to read this book over the weekend in order to start on the next. This book requires time and thought, and, you will need to discern for yourself what the potential lessons are. In some ways the author appears confused about whether he is attempting to convey how to develop deep change or if he is attempting to convey bridge building. You will need to decide for yourself if this is merely semantics. In my mind, there is a definite distinction between the two yet the author has trouble deciding what he is trying to present. In some ways the book reminds me of Sufi Parables; in that you may discern a different meaning or lesson on a different day depending on your attitude and mind set at the time of the reading. All in all, this is a deeply philosophical book that may leave you disappointed. My suggestion? Pass this one up and go for his earlier book, Deep Change
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and wholly worthwhile 22 Oct. 2006
By Dylan Tyson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Quinn and his colleagues have been working with us at Prudential Retirement to help create a culture founded on the concepts that arise from this book. The effect on our business has been significant. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

That said, this book asks a lot of its readers. It provokes reflection, thought and contemplation about organizational change and the inner change that must precede it. If you are looking for a quick airplane read on the subject, this book is definitely not for you. If you have some reflective time to devote to this complex subject, it will provide an outstanding return on your investment. The book and its author possess an authenticity that you will appreciate.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's All About Facing our own Fears 2 Dec. 2006
By J. Fish - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Walking naked into the wilderness. Being willing to talk about the elephants filling the room. Recognizing the trunk growing on my own face. Letting yesterday's organization go, those cozy perceptions that make our own inaction seem to be the safest way. Taking the road less traveled. Questioning my supervisor in an open, warm and respectful way---rather than complaining about him or her over lunch with a friend. Realizing the more of us who believe we are responsible for the organization we are part of, the more real that organization will become. That we are co-creators of our work reality--that there is no Them doing bad things to US.

These were many of the thoughts that emerged through my exploration of Robert Quinn's book Deep Change.

It is very challenging for me to evaluate Building the Bridge as I had the great privilege of Dr. Quinn including my story and some of my experiences once I faced my own fears at work several years ago.

There is no question in my mind, however, that Robert Quinn is a man of great wisdom and great gifts which he freely shares in a warm, personal and authentic way. After finishing his books I feel as though I have had a long conversation with a man who wants me to fulfill the purpose of my life. Such unselfishness is so rare in our age of narcissism and self-aggrandizement. I found his approach helped coax me toward being a more authentic, honest, and courageous leader.

No other author has brought me such insights in such an inviting and comforting way.

Jeremy Fish, M.D.
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