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The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customerThedore Lewitt

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Leadership: The Inner Side of Greatness

Leadership: The Inner Side of Greatness

Thought-provoking ideas about the meaning of the mission of leaders and the qualities required to accomplish this mission.

Author(s): Peter Koestenbaum

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

Date of publication: 2002

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In this philosophical book, the author does not provide easy answers, but incites readers to think about the meaning of their mission as leaders and the qualities required to accomplish this mission. The strength of the book lies in confronting readers with truths that are often difficult to admit. Instead of ignoring them, the author focuses on the contradictions and challenges of leadership. For example, the need to put pressure on people to perform and the need to motivate them. The author also addresses difficult subjects such as the solitude and fears of the leader. Readers thus gain a better understanding of how their challenges as leaders are legitimate given their role. Along the way, they can evaluate how they themselves resolved these contradictions and find ideas to pursue further development.
– One of the most pressing issues for companies today is that of leadership, as the author reminds us in the introduction. In chapter 7, he shows that leadership is becoming one of the most significant sources of productivity in an organization.
– If you only have time for a quick perusal, read only the first two chapters. In chapter 1, the author demonstrates why leadership is first and foremost a choice – to be responsible for one’s own existence. This responsibility is founded upon four fundamental qualities, summarized in chapter 2, namely vision, realism, integrity and courage. Chapter 8 underlines that great leaders do not draw their strength from an excessive amount of one of these qualities, but rather from the simultaneous activation of all four.
– Chapters 3 to 6 delve deeper into the four qualities that differentiate a leader. In chapters 9 and 10, the author also proposes concrete recommendations on how to develop each one. Vision requires systematic thinking and creativity (chap. 3). Realism confronts the reader with unavoidable realities, such as the need to get results or the utility of bureaucracy (chap. 4). The author also defines his vision of ethics. In doing so, he provides food for thought on integrity, compassion and openness to others (chap. 5). Finally, the courage to act is described in detail in chapter 6, in which the author invites us to look differently at fear, a natural emotion in man. Once this emotion is better understood, it can be a source of development, rather than an obstacle to action.
– On related topics, you will find interesting elements on teamwork (chap. 5), management committees (chap. 11), as well as a detailed analysis of recent crises, including the Enron bankruptcy (chap. 12).