This book offers a simple, effective way of finding out what you need to do to kit yourself up as a 21st century leader.
There are tens of thousands of leadership books out there, including myriad, quick ‘how to’ texts, alluring personal success stories and more dense, seriously theoretical volumes. This is a pretty boggling range of choices.
Many leaders are left confused about which books to trust and where to start. Even the most experienced leaders can end up feeling a little exposed by this, and lacking a good way to describe their own leadership strengths and growing edges .
Everything you need to know!
So what would it be like to just get one book that covers everything you need to know about leadership, in a clear, accessible and grounded way? This means grasping the evolution of theory over the last 100 years, measuring your own progress against a new, more integrated leadership framework and discovering new ways to develop yourself.
Essential Leadership helps you do this by combining the organisational experiences and academic know-how of Esther Cameron and Mike Green. This has resulted in theory and practice sitting alongside each other in a mutually reinforcing way.
The intent is to engage readers, not to lecture them, so to help things along, there is plenty to entertain those who don’t normally read this type of book, or feel somewhat resistant! The style is clean and spacious, the content is wide-ranging, and there are lots of helpful things such as clear frameworks, real examples, regular summaries, self-assessments and stretching exercises.
The Five Leadership Qualities framework
At the core of the book is the Five Leadership Qualities framework, developed and refined over the last 10 years. This framework is a simple-yet-profound synthesis of much of the leadership literature, and can be thought of as a set of archetypes, or as a series of clusters of interconnected skills. Robust and clear, it helps people to get to grips with some fundamentals, as well as stimulating them to ‘fill out’ their own leadership capacity in a more imaginative way.
It can be used by individuals and teams to develop a language of leadership, and to provide a stimulating, ‘whole body’ way of keeping leadership development vibrant and alive in organisational settings. This easy to grasp, yet surprisingly versatile framework has been validated by research across various leadership populations in the UK, mainland Europe, the Gulf and Africa.
Who will benefit from the book?
If you’re a fledgling leader, this book offers a very sound starting point. The theory is set out systematically and logically, with references to follow-up where your interest is stimulated. There are lots of good examples of the different types of leadership in action, as well as a wide range of ‘quick experiments’ for those wishing to take steps to improve.
Experienced leaders can gain a clear sense of how the profession has developed over the last 100 years, and fill in any elements of theory they either missed out on, or never knew about. They can also quietly read up on leadership approaches that interest them, or simply step back and reflect on their current practice. The book also reminds people at any stage of their leadership journey, that the road is long and we all have much more potential to grow and learn than we tend to think. Readers are repeatedly reassured that with sufficient courage, commitment and support, vital capacities do start to grow!
There’s also much in this book to interest HR Professionals, and external coaches/consultants. The elements on adult learning and developing maturity in leaders are likely to feel particularly fresh and stimulating. This book additionally helps clarify the type of leadership that’s required to lead effectively in the 21st century, and how this can be developed in an organizational setting.
PART ONE: Setting the scene
Chapter 1 Leading in a new era
PART TWO: Leadership frameworks and research
Chapter 2 Leadership traits and characteristics
Chapter 3 Contingency theories
Chapter 4 Situational leadership
Chapter 5 Psychodynamics, power and the shadow
Chapter 6 Transformational and transactional leadership
Chapter 7 Strategic and innovation leadership
Chapter 8 Change leadership
Chapter 9 Leadership responsibility and values
Chapter 10 Leading across organisations and networks
Chapter 11 Leadership health: mind, body and spirit
Overall map of leadership
PART THREE: Learning to lead in practice
Chapter 12 What does 21st-century leadership require?
Chapter 13 How do leaders learn?
Chapter 14 Levels of leadership maturity
PART FOUR: You and your development
Chapter 15 Taking stock and self-rating
Chapter 16 Clarifying your goals and intended outcomes
PART FIVE: The Five Leadership Qualities framework
Chapter 17 Introduction to the Five Qualities framework
Chapter 18-22 each contain:
key characteristics | core and advanced skills | description of quality | self-rater | research insights | embodying the quality | too much? | typical barriers | 15 quick experiments | case studies and reflective questions
Chapter 18 Tenacious Implementer
Chapter 19 Measured Connector
Chapter 20 Visionary Motivator
Chapter 21 Thoughtful Architect
Chapter 22 Edgy Catalyser
Chapter 23 Becoming Masterful!
PART SIX: Leadership and organizations
Chapter 24 Defining leadership culture
Chapter 25 Changing leadership culture
Chapter 26 The implications of Millennial leadership
The original research
Praise for Essential Leadership
“In Essential Leadership, Esther and Mike have produced a valuable contribution to the field of leadership that is both rigorous and relevant. I believe that, as a reader, you will find this to be an engaging, challenging and enjoyable book.”
Malcolm Higgs, Professor of Organisation Behaviour and HRM
Southampton Business School, UK.
“Practical, research based and thought provoking. A must read for anyone interested in developing leaders!”
Nick Petrie, Senior Faculty, Center for Creative Leadership
“It is the first leadership book I have ever read, and I found it surprisingly engaging and relevant.”
Alex Kirk, Senior Development Manager, Transport Sector, UK
“The core of this book is the well-researched Five Qualities framework. It is rich and flexible, and allows leaders to continually discover new ways to creatively address their current business and leadership challenges.
We have seen leaders grow in confidence, strength and in their capacity to hold the task and people aspects of leadership, as they embed the Five Leadership Qualities. Given that the Qualities are developable rather than fixed personality traits, the book provides courage to leaders to grow fluidly into new aspects of their leadership.”
Yasmeen Rubidge, Anton Richman and Jabu Mashinini, Leadership Pathways, South African Consultancy focusing on leadership development, executive and team coaching and diversity