Unlike most other books, Resonant Leadership
undersells itself. With easy justification, the authors or their editors at Harvard Business School Press could have applied a more expansive moniker like "Secrets of Enduring Leaders", or "How to Deal with Burnout," or perhaps even "Being Happy at Work." The work's modest title, though, takes nothing away from its grand ambition: to explain what makes leaders effective amid unrelentingly stressful situations.
The authors, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, will be familiar to many businesspeople and management theorists. They collaborated with Daniel Goleman on the bestselling Primal Leadership, which extended Goleman's seminal work on emotional intelligence, and explained how "EQ", not just IQ, underpins success in guiding and directing organizations. With this latest book, Boyatzis and McKee have continued developing their holistic view of management. It's an attractive one. Resonant Leadership begins with recognition of leaders' essential humanity and analyzes the physical, mental, and emotional triggers that make men and women strong or weak as leaders. As readers might expect from an HBS Press offering, Boyatzis and McKee's methodology is appropriately academic, with extensive footnotes and research citations, but it also uses a nice blend of anecdotes from their field work as consultants, and is expressed through decidedly touchy-feely language. What emerges is a highly engaging, readable work that takes business audiences into somewhat unusual psychological territory, far beyond the usual bar charts and spreadsheets.
The book's organization is simple. Boyatzis and McKee start by describing the highly stressful conditions in which leaders operate today, and explain sympathetically how many well-intentioned people fall into what they call "dissonance" due to burnout. Whereas the authors' earlier book focused on the initial ingredients for leadership effectiveness, their interest now is in ongoing, enduring resonance--leaders who can be effective today, but also maintain their edge into tomorrow, as well. Resonant Leadership thus moves from this initial exposition of problems--management ineffectiveness, and/or burnout--to solutions. The authors anchor their prescription around three core qualities which they believe resonant leaders must continually cultivate: mindfulness, hope, and compassion. These may sound like ephemeral concepts, but they form the touchstone of Resonant Leadership and are cited again and again. Readers of Boyatzis and McKee's latest--whether already-strong leaders looking to maintain their effectiveness, or burned-out ones aiming to get back in the proverbial saddle--will find this is a thought-provoking read. --Peter Han
From Publishers Weekly
Building on the principles they laid out in their 2002 bestseller, Primal Leadership
(coauthored with emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman), Boyatzis and McKee explain how managers and executives can employ mindfulness, hope and compassion to create—and maintain—exceptional business success. "Effective teams and powerful, positive organizational cultures do not happen by accident," they write; they are created by "resonant" leaders who employ emotional intelligence to motivate and nurture their employees. Yet resonance can be exhausting to maintain, the authors have found, and even outstanding leaders can turn dissonant under the pressure of chronic business stress. When that happens, they say, "rest and relaxation" aren't enough to restore a leader's emotional resilience. Drawing upon cognitive psychology, Buddhist philosophy and their own research, the authors propose a series of more effective remedies. Among them: cultivating "openness, curiosity and awareness" about oneself and others; visualizing a positive, realistic dream; and working to understand and improve the situations of others. Boyatzis and McKee argue convincingly that such practices can "favorably impact the bottom line while enabling leaders to sustain their effectiveness for longer periods of time." At a time when business leaders are under scrutiny for moral lapses on financial and social fronts, the exercises and arguments in this book can help executives learn to improve their interests by strengthening their ethics. 60,000-copy first printing. (Oct. 27)
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