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Comment: Previous owner name "blacked" out inside front cover. Ink underlines to the first few pages only. The book otherwise is nicely clean, with rather light handling wear and remains in very good reading condition. The spine is very good. Dust jacket is good with rather light edge imperfections.
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In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It Hardcover – June 11, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


In Extremis Leadership is one of the most phenomenal books on leadership to come along in decades. It’s a myth-busting, heart-stopping, mind-blowing account of what it’s really like to lead in life-and-death situations.”--Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the best-selling The Leadership Challenge and A Leader’s Legacy


“Col. Kolditz is a visionary in the field of leadership training and development.”--David S. Corderman, head of the Office of Leadership Development, FBI Academy


“We should always lead as if our lives depended upon it! Colonel Kolditz shows us how.”--Marshall Goldsmith, author of the best-selling What Got You Here Won’t Get You There


In Extremis Leadership can help all leaders build stronger organizations and a more uplifting society.”--Henry Cisneros, chairman, City View, and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


“The parallels between leading in high-stakes business ventures and leading in dangerous contexts are compelling.”--Chris C. Casciato, partner, Goldman, Sachs & Company


“Great wisdom and riveting stories.”--Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor, and best-selling author, Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End


“Anyone in a leadership role can learn much from what it means to live-- and lead in extremis.”--John Alexander, president, Center for Creative Leadership


“makes the point that we should all lead as if lives depend on it.”--Lieutenant General Franklin L. Hagenback, superintendent of the U.S.  Military Academy


“This book charts a path to better understanding of leadership in the real world.”--Howard T. Prince II, retired Brig. Gen.., U.S. Army, and director, Center for Ethical Leadership at the University of Texas


In Extremis Leadership helps us appreciate what is essential for leading--whatever the field.”--Michael Useem, professor of management, the Wharton School, and author of The Go Point


“This book will help students grow and develop their own philosophies of leadership.”--Brian Barefoot, president, Babson College


From the Inside Flap

"In Extremis Leadership transforms the formerly anecdotal study of combat leadership into solid behavioral and social science that will improve leadership across the private, public, and social sectors."
General Eric Shinseki, U.S. Army, retired, former Chief of Staff

In this extraordinary book, Colonel Thomas Kolditz—a professor at West Point and an on-the-ground military leader—shows how extreme life-and-death leadership skills can offer profound lessons for leaders in any setting.

In a clear and compelling manner, Kolditz explains that his research on in extremis leadership situations, where followers perceive their lives to be threatened, reveals that the leadership lessons and principles in evidence in dangerous settings also apply to leading in business and everyday life. Kolditz describes a variety of high-risk situations that are ideal settings to seek and find great leaders, assess how they might be different, and glean valuable insights for extraordinary leadership in our everyday lives. Through heart-stopping real-life stories of leaders in these extreme situations, Kolditz insists that leaders at all levels can improve their effectiveness.

The book is filled with compelling in-depth interviews with such in extremis leaders as chiefs of SWAT teams, mountain-climbing guides, leaders of large-formation skydiving events, the U.S. Military Academy's national champion parachute team, and team leaders in football, wrestling, swimming, and rugby, as well as the first armored cavalry commander to roll his tanks into the fiery streets of Baghdad in 2003. Kolditz challenges us to learn from their experiences and honor their commitment and sacrifices by serving the people around us and leading as if our lives depended on it.

This authentic perspective on leadership will help cut through faddish, flavor-of-the-month leadership approaches and make anyone better at leading and being led.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (June 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787996041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787996048
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Police Captain on December 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My team and I recently had the opportunity to hear Colonel Kolditz speak at the 2007 Water Rescue Conference. We were so impressed with his presentation that we ordered a few copies for the team when we got back. Once I picked this book up, I found it hard to put down. It is by far the best leadership book I have ever read. I have read dozens of them and picked up some leadership tools from each, but none compare to the valuable lessons to be learned in this book. It made me cognizant of countless improvements that I could make in relation to the way I lead my people. Unfortunately in the public safety business you have to be prepared to deal with internal tragedy. The chapter in this book that covers what to do when internal tragedy strikes will leave leaders prepared for the unthinkable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By William Corsair on May 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very good book. I can't quibble with anything any of the other reviewers have written. Unfortunately, the title says it all. But most leaders aren't "in extremis" leaders, nor are they in "in extremis" leadership situations. Unfortunately, there's still too much emphasis on C2 (command and control) in the book. There's a time and a place for it, and Kolditz lays it out brilliantly. But the applicability of his model to civilian and corporate cultures is difficult, at best.

I teach several different multi-day leadership courses for an agency of the Department of Defense. The majority of the students are former military, and know first-hand that the C2 model doesn't work very well in the "non-in-extremis" situations they work in. A colleague teaches at the Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth; he says they put a major emphasis on non-C2 because that's where otherwise-good leaders generally falter and fail. And, if you watch the TED video of General Stanley McChrystal, or read any of Adm. Thad Allen's accounts of the Gulf oil spill, you'll hear that they relied heavily on "Unity of Effort" rather than "Unity of Command." I'd encourage anyone interested in this whole area to dig deeper.

There's also a huge difference in types of leadership among the uniformed services. Navy and Air Force are much more C2 style and procedure driven because of the complicated nature of their weapons systems (multi-billion-dollar ships and complicated aircraft), and the potential for catastrophe if there are weapons systems accidents or failures. Army and Marine Corps are much less C2 driven because Soldiers and Marines must be more nimble and make their own decisions on a second-by-second basis.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Jefferies on May 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In Extremis Leadership is a great read! If you have leadership responsibilities, or are in a position to influence people, this book will help you think in new ways about the subject - regardless of whether you are actually leading people in life and death situations. I highly recommend reading Tom Kolditz' latest contribution to the art and science of leadership.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roland B. Peck on August 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is not only a riviting read, but the principles of leadership are brought to light in the arena of in extremis which is compelling and informative. The interviews and reports from soilders in combat, fire fighters, free fall jumpers, FBI SWAT teams and even a father caught on the horns of a dilema with his 18 year old daughter bring clarity to the message. It's leadership principles are applicable to all walks of life. I wish I had this information years ago. It is so cogent. Roland Peck, Business Owner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Loz on August 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A compelling book from Kolditz, head of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership, USMA West Point. In extremis leadership focuses on leadership in life & death situations and extrapolates learnings to every day business life. Kolditz frequently uses examples taken from leadership under dangerous settings, e.g. military manouvres in Korea/Iraq, NYFD in the aftermath of 9/11, FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina & extreme outdoor pursuits such as mountaineering & skydiving. The examples make this book impossible to put down and one is made to think how they equate to ones own situation.

Kolditz focuses on key attributes for successful leadership: competence to build trust & loyalty, external focus & ability to learn, self-control, motivation in high-risk contexts, value of selflessness & shared risk, and fitness. All traits that are relevant to every sphere of leadership.

This work is paricularly relevant for those dealing with unexpected events and especially those involved with crisis management.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew L. Cawston on March 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had the good fortune to attend a presentation by Col Tom Kolditz on the subject of "In Extremis Leadership". Col Kolditz kept the entire audience riveted for the entire hour-and-a-half that he was with us.

He clearly knows this subject matter in-and-out. Leadership is not merely a theoretical matter with him: he has led men in Harm's Way as a combat veteran. He has also made Leadership a matter of academic study, and teaches as a Professor at one of the world's premiere schools for producing Leaders, the US Military Academy at West Point. (and everything in this paragraph you can learn from the fly-leaf)

What makes this book unique is that it deeply resonates immediately with anyone who does lead people into Harm's Way -- police chiefs, fire chiefs, Xtreme sports captains, or in my case as a leader of Guardian Angels volunteers. It *is* different to leading a company or business during times when nobody can get hurt. The priorities *are* different and the way that these priorities are addressed *are* different, both for the leader and for those who are led. And what is presented in the book by way of counsel or advice is immediately useful and extremely practical. A very hi signal-to-noise ratio: not much guff, just good stuff.

As a presenter, the Colonel comes across as genuine, an unusual mix between a scholar and a professional soldier -- and definitely not Gung-Ho. The book reads exactly the way the Colonel comes across in real life.

After the seminar, I had the presence of mind to ask the Colonel to sign my copy of his book. It is a keeper.
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