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Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading Hardcover – Apr 1 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (April 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578514371
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578514373
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 640 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Climbing Mount Everest: dangerous. Hitchhiking in Colombia: very dangerous. Leading through change: perilous. Perilous but possible, say Heifetz and Linsky in their encouragingly practical guide to putting yourself on the line and negotiating the hazards of leadership. As the authors acknowledge, many leadership books are "all about inspiration, but downplay the perspiration." This one doesn't. Leadership is always a risky business, but those risks can be understood and reduced. Effective leadership comes from doing more than the technical work of routine management; it involves adaptive work on the part of the leader, and a willingness to confront and disturb people, promote their resourcefulness, and engage their ability to adjust to new realities. But adaptive change always encounters resistance. Heifetz and Linsky examine four forms of resistance--marginalization, diversion, attack, and seduction--before presenting a number of practical resistance-response skills to nurture and employ. Some are fairly obvious (like developing and maintaining perspective, and holding steady in the midst of change), and others more complex (like thinking politically when dealing with friends, foes, and fence sitters), but shimmering nuggets of insight and practical wisdom can be found in each. The dangers of leadership also spring from within, however, and the book's final section addresses ways to recognize and manage competing "hungers" and learn to distinguish one's roles from one's self. The authors' points are illustrated by the experiences of leaders from all walks of life, making this a useful and inspiring manual for anyone hoping to put themselves on the line and make a difference in the lives of others. --S. Ketchum

From Publishers Weekly

Recognizing that it can be both lonely and difficult at the top, the authors faculty members of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government set out to lend emotional and practical support. Whether leaders represent a local planning board or a Fortune 500 company, they "live dangerously," say the authors, "because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking with nothing more to offer perhaps than a possibility." To that end, Heifetz and Linsky offer useful strategies leaders can employ, such as building political constituencies, trying to orchestrate the inevitable conflict, and forcing those who cause problems to actually solve the problems. Indeed, the book does dwell on the negative aspects of leadership, serving more as a troubleshooting guide than a how-to leadership handbook. Some of the examples are informal (e.g., the 1994 Chicago Bulls), while others are more traditional (e.g., city planning and politics). Showing a sympathetic side, Heifetz and Linsky offer tactics to help leaders not to take conflict personally. Remember, they counsel, you are more than your job. This book will undoubtedly provide leaders and managers comfort on days when everything seems to be going wrong in their department or organization.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Leadership on the Line" appends and fulfils Ron's original framework first presented in the "Leadership Without Easy Answers". If you didn't study the framework closely, learn it and come back.
While "Leadership Without Easy Answers" explains bit by bit the perils of adaptive change and the importance of orchestrating the conflict, giving the work back, managing appropriate pace and keeping the holding environment, it gives only a quick (not quite sufficient) glance at getting on the balcony, finding partners and distinguishing allies from confidants.
The first six chapters of the "Leadership on the Line" are purposed to complete the framework.
Chapters seven to nine is a highly practical cookbook: how to take the heat and hold steadily, how to manage your hungers and keep sanity, how to deal with sexual and intimacy issues, how to distinguish role from self.
The final, very provocative chapters are philosophical and spiritual. Poignantly, they raise a question: what is this all for? Devote a thought to love, innocence, curiosity and compassion -- the virtues of an open heart.
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Format: Hardcover
Serious scholars of leadership will already be well-acquainted with the path-breaking work of Ron Heifetz. His "Leadership W/out Easy Answers" and other significant contributions to "The Harvard Business Review," for instance, have already established him as one of the foremost authorities in the field. I believe that "Leadership W/out Easy Answers" is one of the top 5 works on leadership. I recommend it highly to any and all leaders, managers, and students with professional aspirations. "Leadership on the Line" reiterates several of the previous book's compelling themes--but with a more informal, user-friendlier tone. I'd recommend that discerning readers sample this (more recently published) one first, and then proceed to Heifetz's earlier title (publ'd in 1994) if they're curious to read more.
In their "Introduction" to this new volume, Heifetz and Linsky explain that "We wanted this second book to be more focused, more practical, and more personal [than "L'ship W/out Easy Answers"]. We hope this book will be accessible, eminently usable, and inspiring in your work and life." Happily, they've accomplished their mission this time around, too!
This narrative is even more readable, more anecdotal, and less jargon-laden than its "more academic" predecessor. It should thus reward an even broader audience of readers (including more committed "generalists").
If one of James MacGregor Burns's seminal contributions to the field was the distinction between transactional and transformational leadership, Heifetz's elucidation here of "adaptive vs. technical leadership" merits similar distinction, in my view. "Leadership on the Line" speaks to the heart and soul as well as the mind. Most of us are likely to have plenty to glean from the incisive leadership insights it offers.
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Format: Hardcover
Those who read Heifetz's previously published Leadership Without Easy Answers will be interested to know that the final section in that brilliant book ("Staying Alive") led to the development of this book which Heifetz co-authored with Linsky. "We wanted this second book to be more focused, more practical, and more personal. We hope this book will be accessible, eminently usable, and inspiring in your life and work." The material is presented within three Parts: The Challenge (which explains "why leadership is so dangerous and how people get taken out of the game"), The Response (which provides "a series of action steps designed to reduce the risk of getting pushed aside"), and Body and Soul ("which discusses "ways that people contribute to their own demise"), followed by a Notes section filled with especially informative annotations. Pogo once said "we have met the enemy and he is us." More often than not, I think that is true. I also think that most human limits are self-imposed. That is probably what Henry Ford had in mind when he observed "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."
According to Heifetz and Linsky, "To lead is to live dangerously because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear -- their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking -- with more to offer perhaps than a possibility. Moreover, leadership often means exceeding the authority you are given to tackle the challenge at hand. People push back when you disturb the personal and institution equilibrium they know. And people resist in all kinds of creative and unexpected ways that can get you taken out of the game: pushed aside, undermined, or eliminated.
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Format: Hardcover
I was after a book on business leadership with serious analysis of what works backed up by case examples - this is NOT it.
This is a good book for new leaders - it tells all the things that can go wrong and how you can work your way through the maze of other people and other agendas.
Its definitely not a new "Make It Happen" (John Harvey Jones) which is what I wanted and expected.
It is heaps of sociology and everyday examples, not a guide to the insights that make people follow you through those long entrepreneurial days and nights of hard work, near zero pay and share options in the distant future. Leadership where constant danger lurks rather than "nice" ways to get people to come along with you.
Sorry but it is a nice book for nice leaders.
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