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Higher Ambition: How Great Leaders Create Economic and Social Value [Kindle Edition]

Michael Beer , Russell A. Eisenstat , Nathaniel Foote , Tobias Fredberg , Flemming Norrgren
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Meeting the new standard for leadership.

Higher Ambition is required reading for every leader who refuses to compromise between people and performance. Choosing one or the other may have worked in the past, but it won’t work now. As global competition stiffens and businesses face increased public scrutiny and renewed government regulation, leaders must win on all fronts—with their people, their customers, their communities, and their shareholders. In short, they must deliver superior economic and social value. Brimming with powerful stories and thoughtful advice from CEOs themselves, Higher Ambition equips leaders with the practical insights they need to meet this new and higher standard. The authors, an international team of experts from leading business schools and consultancies, offer a unique view into the minds of some of the most successful and insightful leaders of our time: CEOs from vanguard companies around the world that have demonstrated the distinctive ability to do good while also doing well. These organizations are as diverse as Standard Chartered Bank, Infosys, Volvo, Cummins, IKEA, the Tata Group, and Campbell’s Soup. Readers will learn the principles and practices these pioneering leaders are using to:

• Build enduring enterprises that simultaneously solve for people and profits

• Forge winning strategies that leverage their companies’ unique cultural and human capabilities

• Dramatically raise the aspirations and ambitions of their people

• Energize and align their diverse global firms

• Relentlessly upgrade leadership capabilities throughout their organizations

Drawing on the author team’s extensive research and in-depth interviews with successful leaders from around the globe, this provocative new book is poised to become a management classic in the tradition of In Search of Excellence and Built to Last.

Editorial Reviews


“Full of powerful CEO stories and advice, Higher Ambition argues that successful companies over the long term have demonstrated ‘the distinctive ability to do good while doing well’.” — Professional Manager magazine

“the book details how these leaders used their unique leadership style to bring about both economic and social growth.” – The Economic Times

A “Staff Pick” – CIO Magazine

Named by strategy+business magazine as one of the Best Business Books of 2011.

“In our book, In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters and I wrote that great leaders and managers make meanings for people—not just money. This carefully researched and well-written book explains how 36 CEOs across three continents do just that. Leading with higher ambition is not just an option but a necessity for success in tomorrow’s corporate world.” — Bob Waterman, Coauthor, In Search of Excellence; author, The Renewal Factor, Adhocracy, and What America Does Right

“The CEOs profiled in this book offer an invaluable guide to business leaders as they look to practice the right corporate leadership. These ideas will help a new generation of leaders become better CEOs.” — Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO and cofounder, Infosys Technologies

“The authors provide the first true action guide to creating economic and social value in the global economy. A tour de force that should be carefully read by leaders of all kinds of organizations striving to meet the stakeholder challenges of a new order. Bravo!” — Leonard A. Schlesinger, President, Babson College; former Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Limited Brands

Higher Ambition stimulates a long-overdue dialogue about the connection between employees engaged in significant work they are proud to do and the performance of the companies they work for. If you want to lead an organization today and you don’t think this matters, I would bet on the success of your competitor.” — Brad Anderson, Former CEO and Vice Chairman, Best Buy

“In this wonderful book we discover the role leaders can play to steer their companies with purpose, compassion, and authenticity. Deep insights, fresh thinking, and creative actions make this a must read for every future-oriented leader.” — Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice, London Business School; author, The Shift: The Future of Work Is Already Here

Higher Ambition expertly details the stories of leaders who connect the dots between economic performance and social value. This book offers pragmatic lessons for success, drawn from leaders who have been there.” — Dominic Barton Global Managing Director, McKinsey & Company

About the Author

Michael Beer is the Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School and chairman of TruePoint Partners, a consultancy, and the TruePoint Center for High Performance and High Commitment. Russell Eisenstat and Nathaniel Foote are partners at TruePoint. Tobias Fredberg is an associate professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, and a Fellow at the TruePoint Center. Flemming Norrgren is a professor at Chalmers University and a partner at TruePoint.

Product Details

  • File Size: 822 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (August 23, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CVV272
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,275 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Higher Ambition August 31, 2011
This is an excellent book in the tradition of In Search of Excellence, Good to Great and others. But with a twist. Instead of perpetuating the orthodoxy of shareholder value fundamentalism, the authors have sought to learn from leaders with a higher ambition -- to provide both economic and social value. They've found such leaders and done an outstanding job of sharing the approaches and impacts with great clarity. Any leaders who sincerely care about guiding enterprises -- in the private as well as not-for-profit and government sectors -- toward real results and performance that matter to customers, employees, shareholder/stakeholders and to the safety, sanity and sustainability of the planet must first establish an ambition higher than financial results alone. This book provides a step-by-step guide to doing so.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not upto Expectations December 27, 2011
First of all, I found the title misleading. The title led me to believe it is about companies with products and services serving social or environmental goals.

Soon realized the 'social' value in the title is referring to the CEOs taking care of the people they work with - employees, customers, communities. I don't think that's a radically novel business leadership quality, do you?

Anyways having gotten over that .....

The book is based entirely on interviews and discussions with 36 CEOs of bluechip global companies - Volvo, Cummins, Campbell Soup etc. As the authors admit, "the study was intended as exploratory research to generate hypothesis about a distinctive model of leadership. It was not designed to test them rigorously, nor to 'prove' that leaders who follow the practices described here will necessarily outperform their peers'.

Not all 36 companies receive the same extent of coverage. The leaders and events at Volvo, Cummins, Nokia, Mahindra & Mahindra, IKEA, Campbell Soup fill up most pages.

So there ... once you come to terms with the title of the book and that the research sources used are not much more beyond a few CEO's, with unintrusive commentary by the authors, you will find that its got some useful insights.

I did find the CEO's remarks on Performance Management, Commitment and Culture enlightening. Which is why I'd still give it a 3 star rating.

The back cover said 'poised to become a management classic in the tradition of In Search of Excellence and Built to Last'. Sorry .. not upto expectations. Try harder gentlemen !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Higher Ambition" reaches higher ground September 5, 2011
This inspiring, very well-written book starts from the premise that combining economic performance and social value is a "higher ambition" to which business leaders should aspire. But the authors of "Higher Ambition" do not attempt to prove any hypothesis. Instead, they let 36 CEOs from the USA, Europe and India do the talking, then deftly present patterns and conclusions through summaries and charts.

What makes "Higher Ambition" stand out among business books I've read is its combination of important theme, excellent writing, a sense of time and place, and intellectual rigor. Several stories related by the CEOs of
crucial decision points are truly memorable. And through concise prose the reader gets a feel of the broader setting, whether it be Norway at the dawn of the cell phone revolution or an Indian jeep company's new CEO dealing with workers who sleep during their shifts.

While the CEOs' stories obviously portray themselves in a favorable light, neither the authors nor the CEOs put anyone on a pedestal. On the contrary, part of what makes "Higher Ambition" so interesting is the sense
that these CEOs see the importance of "keeping it real" and taking a hard look at themselves.

The book has certain phrases, such as the "simultaneous solve" for business and social problems, that could well become common parlance. More fundamentally, I think "Higher Ambition" is destined to become a classic of business writing, on a par with books like In Search of Excellence, and one that can give us hope for the future.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to create economic and social value simultaneously September 1, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Higher ambition" leaders are leaders who work to realise the full potential of their firms to create superior and lasting economic value, and at the same time to create superior social value, according to Michael Beer, Flemming Norrgren, Russell Eisenstat, Nathaniel Foote, Tobias Fredberg and in this book. The book describes insights gained from interviewing 36 "higher ambition" leaders from India, Europe and North America.

Readers who are accustomed to the rigorous research methods of Jim Collins may not be impressed with the methodology adopted by the authors. The leaders who were interviewed for the book were chosen on the basis of direct experience of the authors, recommendations from trusted colleagues, and lists of most admired companies and best places to work. Their companies had to have better-than-average growth rates and the CEOs had to have expressed concern with developing a people-centric high-commitment culture.

These are somewhat loose criteria, leading to the suspicion that some of the research subjects may have been strong "higher ambition" leaders while others may have just been making up the numbers. As the authors acknowledge, the book does not stand as authority for the proposition that "higher ambition" leaders produce better results or create a happier workforce than any other type of leader. Instead the authors have produced "an exploratory or hypothesis-generating study".
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