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Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change Hardcover – October 20, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0787979133 ISBN-10: 0787979139 Edition: 1st

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Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change + Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787979139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787979133
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...there is much to learn from this book and I commend the authors for their painstaking analysis" (The Learning Organisation, Vol. 15 No. 1, 2008)


"Leadership Agility is a unique and extraordinarily important contribution to our understanding of what it takes to lead in a world of rapid change and increasing complexity. They show us with vivid real-life examples how leaders grow, that this growth is essential to achieving higher levels of success, and that agility is the new master skill of leadership. I highly recommend this book."
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge

"Great coaching on how to develop leadership agility! Probably the most important competency for leaders to have in today's rapidly changing world."
—Marshall Goldsmith, author, Coaching for Leadership, Global Leadership, and The Leader of the Future

"In an era of turmoil and complexity, Leadership Agility is a breakthrough in thinking about leadership competencies. Joiner and Josephs have achieved a creative synthesis of best practices in strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and action learning. Profusely illustrated with clear examples from real-life leaders, this groundbreaking book will be welcomed by both the line leader and the leadership development professional."
—David Giber, senior vice president, consulting and leadership development, Linkage, Inc.

"As executives operating in an often chaotic business environment, we know instinctively that our company's ability to zig and zag is critical. Leadership Agility takes that instinctive understanding and defines it, measures it, and shows us how to develop it in ourselves and others. This is a timely, thought-provoking, and very important book on leadership."
—Betsy Bernard, former president, AT&T

"Leadership Agility gave me the inspiration I needed to respond creatively and decisively to several of my current leadership dilemmas. Many readers are bound to be similarly inspired. The clear, specific guidance it provides makes it a "playbook" that managers and leaders will read closely and return to again and again."
—Bill Torbert, professor, the Boston College Carroll School of Management; author, Action Inquiry: The secret of timely and transforming leadership

"Leadership Agility gives you an insightful, research-based framework that helps you develop as a leader. This book is not about reading and agreeing/disagreeing, it’s about learning and doing."
—Patrick Canavan, senior vice president, of Global Governance, Motorola

"Joiner and Josephs provide a clear, detailed road map that helps pinpoint where you are on your leadership journey and shows you how to get where you want to go."
—Lee Bolman, author, The Wizard and the Warrior; Marion Bloch/Missouri Chair in Leadership, Bloch School of Business and Public Administration, University of Missouri-Kansas City

"Leadership Agility is a remarkable achievement. It will serve as a valuable guide not only for business leaders but for anyone who wants to grow as a person, have more satisfying relationships, and experience greater success in all aspects of life. I heartily endorse this book."
—Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series and coauthor of The Success Principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be™

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Customer Reviews

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This book is a wonderful and easy read.
Ameeta Kaul
The appendix is also a well-written explanation of the research and data that went into and support the findings in the book.
James Puett
I highly recommend this book for leaders, managers and all employees who hope to advance and grow in their careers.
B. Bullerman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Leadership Agility and was very impressed with the contents of the book. As a leadership development professional who tries to read everything there in the field, I felt the book offered a very fresh and unique look on leadership development that helped frame many of my experiences with developing leaders. I felt the biggest contribution was showing how the "Outside-In" and "Inside-Out" dimensions of leadership development connected and changed within a leader. Because leadership development books tend to emphasize either an Outside-In (competency-based models) or Inside-Out (i.e. authentic leadership/emotional intelligence) approach, it was so rare to see such a thorough treatment of both dimensions of leadership development. Since reading it, I've given out several copies to my leadership development colleagues.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James Puett on December 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I met Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs at the 2006 Organizational Development Network Conference and was truly impressed by both. This book is an important contribution to the field of management and leadership development. In fact, it is one of the first (in my significant reading of the literature in this arena) that makes an attempt (a successful one at that!) in bringing developmental stage theory and integral theory to bear on the topic. Many books on management development can (in my opinion) often be distilled into a 1-2 page synopsis as the concepts are just that simple. However, I cannot say that about Leadership Agility as nearly every page has many nuggets of practical wisdom. It is worth reading the whole thing.

As other reviewers have noted, Leadership Agility brings together both Outside-In (competency-based) development theory with Inside-Out (self knowledge, values, authenticity and Emotional Intelligence) understanding.

The core of the book revolves around a 5-stage developmental theory that is reflective of literature research as well as interviews completed in the last decade by Bill and Stephen. In essence, people go through identifiable developmental stages each with their own strengths and liabilities: Expert, Achiever, Catalyst, Co-Creator, and Synergist. Each of the 5 stages is cross-referenced to these 4 competencies:
*Context-Setting Agility
*Stakeholder Agility
*Creative Agility
*Self-Leadership Agility

What I especially appreciate is the naming of both Awareness and Intent as a progressive unfolding skill in the agile leader. At each level of development, the person in consideration is able to increasingly step back and take a broader perspective on both themselves and the context-situation-world they operate in.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By nathan on December 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Years ago, cantankerous therapist Fritz Perls famously accused psychologist Abraham Maslow of being a "sugar-coated Nazi." Maslow's "hierarchy of needs" theory remains popular and influential today, a half-century later, despite its flaws. The major flaw of Maslow's theory is its arbitrariness-posing-as-universality: Maslow's view of the "self-actualized" person is what Larry Kohlberg called a "bag of virtues," which is a set of arbitrary traits and values organized according to "a conventional standard which is both psychologically vague and ethically relative." Psychologist Robert Kegan, when discussing the arbitrary nature of Maslow's theory--and, really, any hierarchical theory of "levels of mastery"--invoked the same conceptually totalitarian tendencies that led Perls to call Maslow a Nazi: "It is comforting to think," Kegan wrote, "that, in totalitarian societies, where troublesome people are often psychiatrically hospitalized, the indigenous mental health professionals are themselves aware that their behavior is nakedly political and actually aimed at social control rather than the health of the person." But, Kegan pointed out, modern attempts to help people "develop" to "higher" levels of functioning may often serve the same function of oppressive social control, intentionally or unintentionally.

Maslow came to mind as I was reading Leadership Agility. Authors Joiner and Josephs have constructed their own hierarchy of "levels of mastery" which amounts to their own carefully sorted and stratified "bag of virtues." The book reminded me, as I was reading, of my years as a Boy Scout.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Thomas Jordan on September 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have been working in the field of adult development psychology in various ways since about 1985, having had the privilege to be able to read most of the research that has been published quite thoroughly: Loevinger, Kohlberg, Kegan, Torbert, Lasker, Fowler, Rosenberg, Selman, Cook-Greuter, etc., etc. I have carried out a handful of research projects using adult development psychology to analyze meaning-making in workplace conflicts, security politics and organizational change. I have also for the last few years been leading workshops for organizational consultants, coaches and leaders on adult development psychology.

I have read Leadership agility very thoroughly over the past months and I must say I am still awed by the richness and new insight offered by the authors. This is a most significant contribution not only to our understanding of leadership, but also to the theoretical understanding of adult development in general. The latter aspect of the book risks to go unnoticed because the authors have aimed at reaching an audience of practitioners, using well-chosen case stories and an accessible writing style. The book is very useful not only for leaders, but perhaps in particular for coaches, organizational consultants and change agents. However, it is a veritable goldmine for people like me, who are interested in developing a keener and more differentiated understanding of what adult development really is. The authors could certainly have written a more academic book with a conceptual framework that would more readily appeal to the research community.
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