Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Management Studies

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Living

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Management Studies

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Living

Article excerpt

Leadership on the Line: Staying alive through the dangers of living Book Review Heifetz, R.A., and Linsky, M. (2002). Leadership on the Line: Staying alive through the dangers of living. Harvard Business School Press. 978-1-57851-437-3 (ISBN 13)

The authors, Heifetz and Linsky renowned authorities in leadership in a simple and lucid style discuss the dangers inherent in leading. Their emphasis throughout the book is more on the perspiration involved in leading than on the inspiration and on the positive traits that a leader possesses: "However gentle your style, however careful your strategy, however sure you are that you are on the right track, leading is a risky business."

The book essentially discusses three pertinent questions pertaining to leadership:

1. Why and how is leadership dangerous?

2. How can you respond to these dangers?

3. How can you keep your spirit alive when the going gets very tough?

The authors cite vivid stories of some of the corporate and political leaders: people, who were never contented to live passive lives, challenged the status quo, the lifestyle and the mindset of individuals which put them in danger personally and professionally. The biggest challenge for a leader is to live to celebrate the meaning of those efforts.

The reason why it is difficult to lead people through changes is that they expect loss and they cannot see that the new situation will be any better than the current state of affairs. A leader may urge people to redefine aspects of their self which in turn may put their sense of competence in question. To persuade people to adopt the new and give up the old means convincing them to "take a leap of faith in themselves and in life." In the process the leader may get marginalized, diverted, attacked, or seduced. According to the authors: "The hope of leadership lies in the capacity to deliver disturbing news and raise difficult questions in a way that people can absorb, prodding them to take up the message rather than ignore it or kill the messenger!"

There are two things that are crucial to the success of a leader in politics, community life, business, or non-profit sector:

a. Ability to segregate technical challenges the one's that require routine fixes from adaptive challenges which require learning new ways and generating novel solutions. …

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