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Courage: The Backbone of Leadership Hardcover – March 3, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787981370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787981372
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this guide to doing the right thing, Lee presents a self-help approach to solving hard-edged problems. The key to effective leadership, he argues, is "principled conduct under pressure"—in short, courage. While courage is hardly the one-size-fits-all magic bullet that Lee envisions, much of his advice is valuable, particularly that dealing with communication, the thorniest management issue of all. The book is built around extended anecdotes about executives facing tough personnel decisions and having to confront their habits of "avoidant communication," and Lee's reconstructed dialogue is engaging, realistic and instructive. He also offers periodic references to his own, genuinely inspiring transition from myopic, alienated wimp to successful executive, lawyer, executive coach, consultant and bestselling novelist (China Boy, etc.). Granted, this business book has many of the problems typical of the genre: the constant invoking of the book's title, whether or not relevant to the point being made; the regular introduction of acronymed concepts and clumsy coinages; the inspirational speeches and the occasional royal we phrasing ("We now see the difference between high, medium and low core values"). But any book that offers a road map to handling unpleasant workplace conversations is welcome—even if the choices in your everyday life don't require as much courage as in Lee's scenarios. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

In this guide to doing the right thing, Lee presents a self-help approach to solving hard-edged problems. The key to effective leadership, he argues, is "principled conduct under pressure"—in short, courage. While courage is hardly the one-size-fits-all magic bullet that Lee envisions, much of his advice is valuable, particularly that dealing with communication, the thorniest management issue of all. The book is built around extended anecdotes about executives facing tough personnel decisions and having to confront their habits of "avoidant communication," and Lee's reconstructed dialogue is engaging, realistic and instructive. He also offers periodic references to his own, genuinely inspiring transition from myopic, alienated wimp to successful executive, lawyer, executive coach, consultant and bestselling novelist (China Boy, etc.). Granted, this business book has many of the problems typical of the genre: the constant invoking of the book's title, whether or not relevant to the point being made; the regular introduction of acronymed concepts and clumsy coinages; the inspirational speeches and the occasional royal we phrasing ("We now see the difference between high, medium and low core values"). But any book that offers a road map to handling unpleasant workplace conversations is welcome—even if the choices in your everyday life don't require as much courage as in Lee's scenarios. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, December 12, 2005)

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Customer Reviews

I would highly recommend this book to any business owner or Human Resources Manager.
PDM
It gives very direct aand effective instruction on how to be a truly great leader in the business world, and it is the latest approach to a very old problem.
Tom Carhart
Also includes a useful self-assessment tool to help readers identify their deep concerns and establish behavioral objectives.
D. Jacobson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. Jacobson on March 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
We all want bosses with backbone, but they are surprisingly rare. In Courage: The Backbone of Leadership, Gus Lee addresses an issue that hasn't received enough attention in the literature on leadership. He provides leaders at all levels a useful framework for tackling difficult issues with integrity and courage. Lee tells numerous stories of real leaders who used courage to confront unethical behavior, resolve conflicts with colleagues (subordinates, peers, and bosses), and challenge wrongs. Also includes a useful self-assessment tool to help readers identify their deep concerns and establish behavioral objectives.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cherie B. Kerr on December 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the transformational leadership book. But don't rely on me, just because I run a company. Look above this line, under "Reviews." See who endorsed Courage. This is the only book that's been endorsed by Warren Bennis and General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. General Schwarzkopf says that "when it comes to leadership, Gus Lee has walked the walk." Add to that General Fred Franks, CEOs, Board Chairs, FBI agents, professors, college presidents, corporate senior executives, non-profit leaders, faith organizations, and even Amy Tan. If you're in a company or a family, read this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on December 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Corporate employees and managers should take a stand against unethical behavior, but that requires the courage to live, work and lead in congruence with your highest values. Author Gus Lee offers a "primer" on courage, including how it shapes decision making, how leaders can demonstrate it in their work, and how you and your employees can learn courage, and use it to support each other and to build moral businesses. To illustrate ethical behavior, Lee discusses case histories of individual courage in corporate life. His discussion is sometimes repetitious, and the vignettes are occasionally confusing, since he may refer back to examples he presented many chapters ago. Despite such flaws, these accounts offer key lessons. We believe that executives and managers can learn about principled action - and can reinforce it among their subordinates - by reading Lee's book and passing it along.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Darrell E. Fisher on September 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gus Lee's book is FANTASTIC! This book should be a "must read" for anyone seeking clarification on the principles of leadership, and most certainly should be a "must read" for leadership and management classes at our nations post-secondary campuses. I actually purchased this book and read it about four years ago, and made the mistake of loaning it to an associate; I NEVER GOT IT BACK. So this was my second read of this book, and it was just as good the second time around!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joan Young on August 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful world it would be if everyone followed Gus Lee's suggestions for courageous leadership. Within our corporate and personal relationships there would be no more lies, no more back stabbing, no more power grabbing, no more leading by the short-term bottom line, no more backing away from the truth outside and within ourselves. It would be a world of honesty, honor, responsibility, civility, and kindness. While this is clearly utopia, Lee shows, through explanations and short vignettes, that moving toward this ideal is not only possible, but rewarding on a personal, professional, and corporate level. As he instructs the reader on the fine points of his method his prose is clear, sometimes funny, and always insightful. This is a thought-provoking and potentially life-altering book whether leading a scout troop or a multi-billion dollar corporation.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tom Carhart on March 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
COURAGE is, quite simply, the best business book I have ever read, and I simply couldn't stop once I started reading it. Though I am now neither a corporate employee nor in any direct way connected professionally to commercial enterprise, I have been in the past. But more important, I am a human being, and the lessons I learned in this book, though perhaps primarily directed to occupants of corporate board rooms, apply directly to normal day-to-day life and social interactions in the post-industrial America of the early 21st century. It gives very direct aand effective instruction on how to be a truly great leader in the business world, and it is the latest approach to a very old problem. To me, the best book on business leadership before this one was The Gamesman, by Michael Maccoby, which I read, I think, in 1979 when I was an aspiring young lawyer. In it, Maccoby spoke of the gradual evolution of leadership types in American business. From the late 19th century through World War II or so, as I remember, including the days of the "Robbber Barons" who established corporate norms for a long time, he said most successful business leaders were what he called "jungle fighters" - ruthless entrepreneurs whose workdays normally included aggressive acts to promote themselves and/or their businesses. That meant stepping on others, back-stabbing, and amorally clutching and clawing their way to the top. Then, as I recall, he described how aggression fell from favor, and I think the next type succeeding the jungle fighter at the top of business came in the 1950s, and was what he described as the "Company Man", in gray flannel suit, white shirt and tie, reliably obedient to corporate rules and standards, conservative and predictable. Safe, but not very good at change.Read more ›
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