Leadership gurus since Machiavelli have argued over whether a leader should be loved or feared. In this evenhanded primer, Nye, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and soft power theorist, takes a resolute stand in between the two sides. Modern leadership, he contends, requires smart power, a judicious situational balance of hard power (getting people to do what you want, with carrots, sticks and bullying) and soft power (getting people to want what you want, with inspiration, charisma and propaganda). Nye embeds his argument in a lucid, if somewhat dry, survey of leadership studies, touching on everything from bonobo behavior to Freudian psychology, and illustrates it with references to noted leaders like former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, Lincoln, Hitler and Subcomandante Marcos. (George Bush's presidency provides a recurring object lesson in bad leadership.) The author takes a skeptical, down-to-earth view of leadership fads and hype. But he can't quite break free of mystical notions like vision or vague buzz concepts like contextual intelligence (a head-scratcher that boils down to judgment and wisdom); his smart power formula is therefore more truism than concrete guide to action. Nye's is a useful introduction to the theory, but not the practice, of leadership. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Finally, a book that analyzes what leadership really means and how it relates to power. It will be invaluable for both political and business leaders alike. Nye developed the concept of hard and soft power, and now he shows how the best leaders use both in a smart way."--Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe, and President, the Aspen Institute
"The Powers to Lead is an outstanding primer on leadership and all its dimensions. Nye cuts through the many bromides surrounding the subject to present a sharp, gracefully written introduction to leadership that will benefit anyone from Washington to Wall Street."--General Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. National Security Advisor
"Nye has written better and more creatively on the importance of soft power as a political and diplomatic weapon than anyone else. Now he brings this knowledge and all his governmental and academic experience to bear on the oldest question in politics-how do leaders emerge and what distinguishes the good ones from the bad? There couldn't be a better primer for a presidential election year, in which all of us, whether or not we are American citizens, have such a big stake."--Chris Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University
"This book will change not only the way leaders think about how they themselves should use power-but also how they can respond more creatively and effectively to others' power moves. This book will-and should-find a permanent place on the bookshelves of academics and practitioners alike."--Roderick M. Kramer, William R. Kimball Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business
"This book represents an important intellectual odyssey. Nye has long been acclaimed as one of the world's foremost thinkers about international affairs, helping us understand, for example, the differences between soft and hard power. Now, to our great good fortune, he has turned his mind to the vexing questions of how power relates to leadership. The result is a conceptual tour de force-one of the best works on leadership since James MacGregor Burns wrote his breakthrough book three decades ago. What a splendid journey!"--David Gergen, Professor of Public Service and Director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
"A lucid...survey of leadership studies, touching on everything from bonobo behavior to Freudian psychology... with references to noted leaders like former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, Lincoln, Hitler and Subcomandante Marcos."--Publishers Weekly