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The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership Hardcover – Sep 27 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.; 1 edition (Sept. 27 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787955876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787955878
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.2 x 23.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #516,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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In The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, University of Southern California President Steven Sample offers up a refreshing perspective on the characteristics of a successful leader. Some of Sample's prescriptions: try reading Machiavelli's The Prince instead of The New York Times, learn to work for those who work for you, and "Anything worth doing at all is worth doing poorly. It may be worth more if it's done well, but it's worth something if it's done poorly." This book is not just for CEO's: middle management and anyone interested in promoting good leadership will benefit as well. --Harry C. Edwards


"It is a cracking good read that fairly zips along and makes you think differently about leadership.... A smashing inspirational read." -- Personnel Today, 19 March 2002

"Provocative." -- Harvard Business Review, February 2002

"Sample's is a very American story, and his is a very American book." -- Los Angeles Times Book Reviews, November 25, 2001

One of the ten best business books of 2001. -- Toronto Globe & Mail, December 19, 2001

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Contrarian leaders think differently from the people around them. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

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Format: Paperback
Steven B. Sample's Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, at 190+ pages, tells us at rather excessive length what Peter Drucker could tell us in a 10- or 12-page essay. Its counsel is about as contrarian as the investing advice purveyed by Merrill, Lynch before that august brokerage went down the tubes in 2008: "Know which hill you're willing to die on;" "Work for those who work for you;" "Follow the leader." In other words, when it comes to being contrarian, this book is not very. Dr.Sample does try to get his Contrarian passport validated by inserting a chapter praising Machiavelli, but the praise is narrowly focused on The Prince, a small occasional piece, and ignores The Discorsi, which are Machiavelli's great monument in the field of modern political science. Not what one expects from a retired university president!

Some people, like Don Shula and Jack Welch, can be brilliant leaders and at the same time be hugely articulate about exactly how they lead and what motivates their followers. Others, like Vince Lombardi and Fiorello Laguardia, can be remarkable leaders who are despite themselves inarticulate about the precise sources of their strength. Sample's leadership achievements at USC were both notable and genuine, but as an explicator of the method I would have to put him in the Laguardia camp. Not a book I would buy a second time.
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Format: Hardcover
Steven Sample could be called a modern Renaissance man. He is an author, professor, inventor, electrical engineer, musician and the 10th president of the University of Southern California. His book entitled The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership is different and challenges many commonly accepted perceptions about leadership. A contrarian leader is simply one who thinks and acts differently than most. For example, the contrarian leader is one who thinks "gray" and "free". Thinking gray means to withhold judgments and decisions until you have heard all the relevant facts or until you are forced to do so. Sample spends a fair amount of discussion on the three major pitfalls of binary traditional thinking. He defines thinking "free" as the ability to first allow your mind to contemplate truly outrageous ideas, and only later on, apply the restraints of practicality, legality, cost, ethics and time upon your creative ideas. This philosophy of thinking gray also affects the decision-making elements of the contrarian leader. Sample makes two suggestions regarding decisions. First, that a leader never makes a decision that can be reasonably delegated to a lieutenant. Second, never make a decision today that can be reasonably delayed until tomorrow.
However, the contrarian leader must have other needs and qualities aside from thinking processes and decision-making. These are also discussed in The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership. The author discusses diverse subjects such as artful listening skills, open communication, and the proper role between consultants, experts and the leader. Sample suggests prodigious amount of selective reading, including "supertexts" for the contrarian leader. This includes an extensive discussion on Machiavelli.
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By A Customer on Oct. 15 2002
Format: Hardcover
I thought at first that the contents of this new managerial guide would be enlightening and novel. But I was disappointed. Once again we see a guide, which does not address the fundamental qualities of a great leader: expert knowledge in what is being managed and not an annoying, wishy-washy "gray thinking" would-be leader.
A leader with knowledge has no difficulty judging the merits of a new idea and should be capable of making firm and fast decisions based on his/her own expertise as well as that of the experts reporting to him/her. If the leader cannot arrive at a decision on the merits of new ideas, then the leader has no right to call him/herself a leader. Such an individual is deficient in understanding of the field being other words, an ignoramus, who bluffs his/her way through business life and ends up being an opinionated, flip-flopping weasel. He or she may be sly enough to pretend they can make decisions worthy of a leader, but don't think for a moment that the other employees, who are the real experts, don't see right through the bluff and have zero respect for such a "gray thinking" leader!
Furthermore, to suggest that people "...see themselves as leaders..." breeds an egotistic attitude and is not worthy of great leadership. A true leader is one, who recognizes that he/she is just an employee like everyone else and is respected by his/her knowledgeable colleagues for his/her expertise in the field being managed and led. A leader should be seen as such by others, not put themself on a pedestal above every other fellow employee in the same "boat/company"!
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By A Customer on July 8 2002
Format: Hardcover
Outside-the-box thinking on leadership from one of the country's most renowned college presidents.
In this provocative new book, Steven Sample, one of the nation's most highly regarded university presidents, explodes many romanticized views of leadership and demonstrates how leaders can free themselves from the shackles of conventional wisdom. Never make a decision today that can reasonably be put off to tomorrow. Don't form opinions if you don't have to. Think gray. Shoot your own horse. Don't force others to do your dirty work. The best leaders don't keep up with the popular media and the trades. Machiavelli can help make you a more moral leader. Know what hill you are willing to die on-and keep its exact location to yourself. Know the all important difference between being leader and doing leader. You can't copy your way to the top. "This is an intoxicating read, a bushwacker's delight. With swift, sure strokes, Steve Sample cuts down a lot of bad ideas about leadership and opens up a new path for the next generation to follow. No wonder he has turned around not one but two major universities
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