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Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity Paperback – March 11, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Leadership is never as easy as it looks and that's exactly as it should be, says executive, entrepreneur, and leadership coach Snyder, currently executive-in-residence at Minnesota's University of St. Thomas. Leadership requires extreme courage and strength, but as Snyder argues, the best leaders have to get past the expectation of perfection while still striving for greatness. The author asked corporate, nonprofit, and government leaders to speak to the times of struggle in their careers and shares 151 of these stories to illustrate how the acceptance of the hard work of leadership can create true greatness. Snyder walks readers through the all-important steps of what he terms "The Pathway to Adaptive Energy": becoming grounded, exploring new pathways, and deepening adaptive energy. In addition, he addresses the everyday difficulties of beating self-doubt, facing change, establishing balance, and getting the necessary support. This is a practical, thoughtful guide to creating sanity, as well as "purpose and meaning" within leadership.

Review

“Leadership and the Art of Struggle provides you with the opportunity to learn from Snyder’s remarkable wisdom. It is a living guide that you can return to time and time again as new situations arise.”
—From the foreword by Bill George, former CEO, Medtronic; Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School; and author of the bestselling True North

“Steven Snyder’s Leadership and the Art of Struggle is the must-read leadership book of the year. It is one of the most intelligent, revealing, and practical books on the subject I have ever read. It confronts a vital truth about leadership: that challenge is the crucible for greatness and that these adversities introduce us to ourselves. Buy this book immediately, read it with a sense of urgency, and apply it with the commitment of a disciple. You and those you work with will benefit greatly when you do.”
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge

“Steven Snyder covers all the bases from channeling your energy to managing conflict, including a great segment about overcoming your leadership blind spots. Leadership and the Art of Struggle is full of real-life examples of leaders who emerged from tough times better and stronger than before. This encouraging book is a must-read!”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Great Leaders Grow

“The leadership journey is rewarding but definitely not easy. Leadership and the Art of the Struggle gives you clear and compelling advice on transforming pitfalls into possibilities.”
—Jodee Kozlak, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Target

“A very fresh and inspiring perspective that constructively embraces the natural tensions that all leaders encounter every day. I heartily recommend it to any leader who aspires to lead and contribute more fully.”
—Douglas R. Conant, former President, CEO, and Director, Campbell Soup Company, and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller TouchPoints

“Steven courageously confronts the element of struggle, which is frequently overlooked in all the leadership hoopla. It’s time we had an open and honest conversation about this integral and vital aspect of leadership.”
—Ken Melrose, former CEO, Toro

“Steven guides you on a journey that can be deeply fulfilling as well as enlightening. I recommend this book for any leader who wants to engage more authentically and constructively in a complex and ever-changing world.”
—Mary Brainerd, CEO, HealthPartners

“Leadership and the Art of Struggle contains compelling stories of great leaders who have struggled with various facets of their leadership responsibility. It offers practical advice and tools to help you deal more effectively with the inevitable struggles of leadership.”
—Trudy Rautio, President and CEO, Carlson

“If you are leading an organization of any kind today or desire to lead one in the future, you need to read this book.”
—Frank Russomanno, former CEO, Imation

“Snyder has opened an intriguing and insightful portal into the challenge of leadership. You’ll be inspired and invigorated with ideas that you can immediately put into action.”
—Kevin Wilde, Chief Learning Officer, General Mills, and author of Dancing with the Talent Stars

“Life in a start-up is chaotic, intense, and unpredictable. Snyder knows this world well and gives you sage advice on how to remain grounded, focused, and energized. This is a book that every entrepreneur or would-be entrepreneur should read.”
—Michael Gorman, Managing Director, Split Rock Partners

“Snyder boldly tackles a subject that every leader needs to master. Sometimes leadership is a struggle, and these are the times that really put us to the test. This insightful book will teach you how to thrive during life’s most challenging moments.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times bestselling author of Mojo and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

“This book resonates to the core. It gives us grounding and offers precise practices for locating our work deep in the soul. Steven makes the dive into the waters of purposeful living and leading deep and attractive. What a delightful dive!”
—Richard Leider, bestselling author of The Power of Purpose and coauthor of Repacking Your Bags

“The French writer Albert Camus tells us, ‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.’ Snyder wisely observes that we can best strike a blow against tragedy and disappointment by using them as inspiration to make a positive difference in the lives of others through our personal leadership.”
—-Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman, Carlson

“This is the right book for these times. Leadership has become more difficult in the chaotic world we live in; Steven acknowledges that and draws on his own deep experience and the lessons learned of others to help any new, aspiring, or well-worn leader!”
—Beverly Kaye, founder of Career Systems International and coauthor of Love ’Em or Lose ’Em and Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

“Leadership and the Art of Struggle deserves to be a leadership classic! Snyder brilliantly charts a course to strengthen ourselves through the important crucibles of challenge and adversity. If you want to build more authentic leadership in yourself and others, get this life-changing book!”
—Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner, Korn/Ferry International, and bestselling author of The Pause Principle and Leadership from the Inside Out
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (March 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609946448
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609946449
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Snyder, Ph.D., is the founder of the Snyder Leadership Group, an organizational consulting firm. An innovator in thought leadership, Snyder has developed the breakthrough concepts introduced in Leadership and the Art of Struggle, based on years of leadership studies, intensive research, and data derived from extensive interviews with real-world executives from major corporations. He currently lives with his family in the Minneapolis area, where he remains actively engaged in philanthropy and community service.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
At some point in your leadership journey, you will find yourself in a position where those words start to bubble up from inside and you wonder:

Can I do this?
What is happening?
Maybe I'm not cut out for this?
What went wrong?
When will "they" realize I'm just a fraud?
If you have gone through this stage or are in it now, there is no better resource I can recommend than the subject of this book review: Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How great leaders grow through challenge and adversity by Steven Snyder.

Finally!

My reaction to Leadership and the Art of Struggle was the reader's equivalent of a fist-pump: I leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes, let out a whispered "yes!" and silently thanked Mr. Snyder for taking the time to write this book.

In Leadership and the Art of Struggle, Snyder spells out a fundamental truth known to every accomplished leader: skill comes through growth and growth...is often very painful.

Granted, you can read biographies, literature, or watch movies and understand the challenges and adversity that confront leaders.

What Snyder adds is a model for understanding the challenges you're going through as well as a process for interpreting them, reflecting upon them, and easing your learning process as you grow in effectiveness.

Content

The definition of leadership Snyder chooses will give you a sense of where he wants to take you. He uses a definition from Harvard instructor Joe Badaracco:

Leadership is a struggle by flawed human beings to make some important human values real and effective in the world as it is.

That is a deep and profound definition.

If it makes you uncomfortable - please read this book.
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Format: Paperback
If you make up a list of the world's greatest leaders throughout history, there would be significant differences between and among them and yet one of their most important similarities would their ability to overcome severe hardships. They are great in terms of their achievements, to be sure, but also in terms of their mastery of what Steven Snyder characterizes as "the art of struggle." He suggests a distinct pattern involving "three fundamental conditions, or defining moments": change plays a prominent role in leadership struggle, change creates a natural set of tensions, and tensions throw the leader off balance. The challenge, therefore, is to regain balance. In fact, more often than not, great leaders have endured and somehow survived what Robert Thomas describes as a "crucible" of severe pressure.

In this book, Snyder shares a number of "stories" of men and women who demonstrate the art of struggle. Some are famous (e.g. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs), others are not, but all of them have relied on one or more of six scripts that Snyder identifies and discusses (Pages 25-27):

1. Proactive Reinvention
2. Stumble, Recover, and Learn
3. Burnout
4. Transcending Constraint
5. Mission Impossible
6. Confronting Failure

"Leaders respond to the change, tension, and intense emotions of their struggles in different ways." Abraham Lincoln probably followed all six at one time or another throughout his life and especially while serving as 16th president of the United States.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Snyder's 's coverage.
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Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of having Steven Snyder as my ethics professor at the Carlson School of Management. His class taught me so much in just one semester, so when I found out that he had written a leadership book, I wanted to read it ASAP. Leadership and the Art of Struggle sucked me in from the very beginning. Instead of many leadership books that almost teach you to be perfect, this one teaches you how to embrace struggle. It's a far more realistic way to look at things, because as human beings, we aren't perfect, but are made to feel inadequate when we do fail or struggle. Steven teaches you that the struggle is normal, and every successful leader goes through it. His message is to learn from it, and make yourself a better leader from it.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the book, is the fact that he has 151 examples, real life cases, that deal with this topic. It is rare to have someone so connected, that has done so much research, and has talked to so many profound leaders in the business world.

This is an absolute must-read book for anyone, in any industry, that would like to become a better and more thoughtful leader. It is a book you could re-read a number of times, and can continue to learn and grow and pick up new things each time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book approaches leadership from the perspective of the turning points we all experienced in life. It's main argument is that all of us encounter adversities, crisis, crucibles and personal melting points that provide for us incredible opportunities for growth, development and reinvention. Our growth, development and reinvention becomes possible as we develop self awareness,and our own learning approaches. The outcome of these processes delivers to us our leadership voice, values, vision and virtues.
Eliseus Joseph
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