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Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World Hardcover – November 30, 2011
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"Destined to become a classic in the field, this is quite simply the best book on leadership and adult development out there. In addition to offering the clearest explication of adult development theory, this book breaks much needed ground in applying the deep insights of theory to practice, and in offering numerous suggestions for working with leaders to expand and transform their ability to cope with complexity. Managers, HR professionals, coaches and others involved in helping leaders grow to meet the demands of our day will greatly benefit from reading this book. So will their clients!"William H. Hodgetts, Ed.D., Vice President of Enterprise Talent, Fidelity Investments
"Buckle upyour world is about to change. Garvey Berger's groundbreaking work at the intersection of adult development, coaching, leadership development, and organizational change have transformed my thinking, practice, and impact. Here, Jennifer makes her astonishing insights readily available to practitioners, managers, and theorists alikejust in time for the needs of our complex world."Mark Leach, Management Assistance Group
About the Author
More About the Author
Jennifer blogs about leadership development for the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and at becomealeader.org. She has published articles and books on leadership, coaching, adult development, and individual and organisational change. She also teaches coaches and consultants about these ideas at universities all over the world. Jennifer has a masters and a doctorate from Harvard University.
Formerly an associate professor at George Mason University in Virginia, Jennifer learned about deep change in 2006 when she turned down the tenure offer and moved to New Zealand with her husband, two kids, and the family dog. Now she lives on the beach, raises hens in the back yard, and often looks forward to the writing she can do in a fourteen-hour plane ride. Eschewing work/life balance for a life that feels like fun across the board, Jennifer loves that her life is a blend of watching the sun set over the Tasman sea and supporting leaders in the public and private sector around the world.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is well organized into three parts; Growing complexity, where she sets the context and backstory; Helping others grow, where she addresses how individuals grow differently and how to work within that individualism; and Changing on the job, where she applies the developmental theories to leadership within the workplace and within the structure of organizations.
Jennifer's style is straight-forward and easy to comprehend. If you are a novice to CD theory, she will intrigue your interest. If you are graduate student or CD practitioner, you will find new insight about applications and developments in change and leadership theory. The most compelling aspect of her book for me has been her ability to make sense of complex theory in a practical, pragmatic application. Most specifically, Jennifer asks the most important question that should be asked of any theory, and applies that to her work, "So what?" Jennifer is critical of CD theory, of her own application of the theory to the workplace, and it is this critical view that makes here work more valuable in that it is practical and applicable.
The author provides us a practical and helpful look at how to coach against a familiar, but well developed theory of mind (mental stages) that helps individuals actually think in complex terms, not just use the terms conversationally. I believe the leadership development community is better at coaching individuals to move from self-authoring to self-transforming than we are at teaching them (in an instructional manner). Current teaching models and normal maturation allow many to reach self-authoring, but the paucity of available self-transforming exemplars means many plateau at self-authoring.
The author encourages a focus on listening to a manager's symbolic lines of reasoning (metaphor and story) as a way to map mental boundaries. Helping leaders communicate complexity through better stories and metaphor is the traveling companion to helping them think and calculate strategically.
A terrific book for those genuinely interested in helping maturing managers up their game to a more complex plane.
Usually I read science-based psychology books, and then I do my best to apply what I learn to help my coaching clients. Even though developing leaders is what I do, I am not a fan of "leadership development" books per se, given the questionable premises of many of them. So please keep this bias of mine into account when reading the following review.
In the book I found something good, something bad, and a lot of gray.
Let's start with the bad:
- the whole book is built around Robert Kegan's theory of adult development. The theory identifies 4 kinds of "minds": the Self-Sovereign Mind, the Socialized Mind, the Self-Authored Mind and the Self-Transforming Mind. These constructs have yet to be scientifically validated, even though some efforts have been made in that direction. There are dozens of systems out there which categorize individuals as belonging to "types", either set or on a development continuum. They all make some intuitive sense. But none is supported by a substantial body of research and they are, for the most part, mutually exclusive. Contrast this approach to what science does, e.g. the decades of research that led to our fragile current understanding of personality (NEO-PI-R).
- the idea of set stages of development. It is telling that the author makes specific references to Piaget's work. Piaget's schema has been seriously challenged in the past few years by a three-pronged assault from evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and a careful analysis of Piaget's experimental methods - which were found to be lacking, at best.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When learning about developmental theory many people's natural first question is how to figure out their own and others developmental stage. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hilary Bradbury
Great companion read for anyone who has read Dancing on the Edge by Maureen O'Hara and Graham Leicester or Polarity Management by Barry Johnson. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Alexander J. Grimshaw
I'm only a third of the way through and already I know it;s a gold star book filled with concepts than will make the difference to my coaching careerPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Profound and practical approach to developmental coaching. A must reading for everyone interested in self-development and in coaching leaders to face the XXI century challenges. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gerardo Gomez
This book is outstanding. Berger has a phenomenal capacity to translate complex developmental ideas and concepts into accessible, applicable and inspiring information. Read morePublished 5 months ago by DLans00
Dr. (Education) Jennifer Garvey Berger’s book is a valuable contribution to the constructive-developmental (CD) body-of-knowledge (BOK) and reflects her education / development /... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Robert Bryan - Organizational Consultant
"There's nothing more practical than a good theory." This is a great introduction to the theory of adult development--that also makes it practical and usable. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ronni H.
One of the best books I have read on adult development. Every professional coach should read it.Published 8 months ago by Bill A