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Ultimate Leadership: Winning Execution Strategies for Your Situation Paperback – January 27, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0132821636 ISBN-10: 013282163X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (January 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 013282163X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132821636
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,810,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“All the management advice in the world won’t help you much if you can’t adapt it to actual situations. That’s where Russ Palmer stands out. These are smart, practical leadership principles that are tried and tested in real-world business circumstances.”

--Edward Whitacre, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of AT&T, former Chairman and CEO of AT&T and Southwest Bell


“It is very fitting that Ultimate Leadership is authored by Russ Palmer, the ultimate leader. It was with his guidance and friendship that I successfully transitioned from four orderly decades as a Marine to the arcane world of corporate America.”

--General P.X. Kelley, USMC (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps


“Russ Palmer’s Ultimate Leadership is truly the last book you’ll ever need on the subject. Russ shows once again why he is the dean when it comes to explaining why leadership matters. Ultimate Leadership is the ultimate statement on how leaders in business, government, and nonprofits alike can keep up with changes and conquer diverse organizational contexts.”

--John J. DiIulio, Jr., Frederic Fox Leadership Professor, University of Pennsylvania, former director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives


“This book about leadership from a contextual viewpoint is nothing short of brilliant. Russ’s easy-to-read book is filled with practical examples of leading from the context of a particular situation. The steps to extraordinary leadership are not hugely different, but the applications are endless. Thank you, Russ, for making sense out of a very disputable subject.”

--Gerard R. Roche, Chairman of Heidrick & Struggles


“This book is refreshing proof that the essential personal traits of successful leaders are identifiable. Russ Palmer presents them in a manner providing great reading and much food for thought.”

--Gordon Bethune, Chairman, Aloha Airgroup, former CEO, Continental Airlines


“Leadership is essential for all seasons, but its effective exercise depends much upon the season. In a masterful account, Russ Palmer draws on his rich store of personal experience to show how adaptive leadership makes the difference. For understanding what actions are required of all leaders--and how those actions must also be tailored to circumstance--Ultimate Leadership is the essential read.”

--Michael Useem, Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership at the Wharton School, and author of The Go Point: When It’s Time to Decide


Go Beyond Generic Leadership: Become an Outstanding Leader in Your Unique Environment


To succeed, leaders must understand and apply the core principles of leadership--but that’s not enough. You need to shape your approach for any unique situation. Too many leaders don’t know how to do that--and that’s why they fail. Ultimate Leadership shows how to adapt the principles of leadership to different challenges, contexts, and organizations.


Russell E. Palmer--who has had three very different, highly successful careers as head of one of the world’s largest accounting firms, Dean of the Wharton School, and an entrepreneur--helps you identify the leadership model most appropriate for your environment, and how to lead accordingly. You’ll learn better ways to lead your equals, help an organization weather crises, transform its culture, lead entrepreneurial organizations, lead global organizations...even lead non-profit and academic institutions.


Then, drawing on interviews with an extraordinary spectrum of outstanding leaders, Palmer helps you master the attribute every leader must have: the ability to inspire your unique organization, even in the face

of the most daunting challenges.


• Achieving empowerment, even in classic “top-down” organizations

    Exercising strong authority without falling victim to ego or closed-mindedness


• Transforming an organization of peers

    Driving changes in a strategic direction when key power centers disagree


• Turning danger into opportunity

    Mastering the art of rapid, focused, hands-on execution for organizations in crisis


• Leading cultural change that sticks

    Reconnecting structures, processes, and strategies with the new realities you face


• Learning from the Wharton experience

    Succeeding in an environment with widely diverse, highly influential stakeholders



--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Russell E. Palmer is the owner and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Palmer Group, a corporate investment firm located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Before founding his own firm, he served as Dean of the Wharton School for seven years and prior to that he served for ten years as Managing Partner and CEO of Touche Ross & Co. (now Deloitte & Touche), an accounting and consulting firm. He became CEO of Touche Ross at age 37, the youngest person ever to attain that position in what is now the “Big Four” accounting firms.


After 27 years in the accounting and consulting profession, Mr. Palmer became Dean of the Wharton School. As the tenth Dean, and the first to come from the private sector, he shared his management experience with MBA students in a leadership course that he developed. He was instrumental in attracting more than 100 new faculty members to the School, building a new executive education program and complex and raising more than $125 million for the School. When he retired, the school was consistently ranked number one in undergraduate business education and in the top three MBA graduate programs.


In his current career with The Palmer Group, he has acquired more than thirty companies with the majority being in the educational field. All of these acquisitions have been successful investments, with the latest divestiture being a proprietary school group that was sold for $120 million.


Active in the outside business community, Mr. Palmer has served on 12 New York Stock Exchange boards, including Honeywell International, Inc., Verizon Communications, Inc., The May Department Stores Company, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He is a Trustee Emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania, a Trustee of the National Constitution Center, and a Member of the Smithsonian National Board.


Mr. Palmer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Michigan State University, and has received several honorary degrees. He has written and lectured extensively. His articles and essays have appeared in Business Week, the New York Times, the Journal of Accountancy, and other publications.

Customer Reviews

This author is a leader who has been successful in multiple leadership contexts.
Matthew Morine
Palmer draws heavily on his widely diverse and highly successful business experience over numerous decades to provide a thoughtful and practical leadership primer.
Kevin A. Kauer
I would think anyone interested in management or leadership in any way would want to read and learn from this very useful book.
Craig Matteson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book interested me once I discovered the author and I both share experiences as CPA's, as being involved with nonprofits, and being entrepreneurs. I enjoyed reading it. The first three chapters were a bit of a struggle for me to get through because I didn't particularly like the author's writing style or repeatedly hearing about who he was. But I loved chapters 4 through 9 and 11.

I kind of expected the book to be a treatise on the traits and styles used by ultimate leaders. I was pleasantly surprised that the book was organized for the most part around the author's varied career and his work experiences. His first career right out of college was to quickly climb the ranks of the smallest of the Big 8 public accounting firms (Touche Ross). He labels that era of his leadership as being in an organization of his peers. Next he retired from public accounting to become the head of U. Penn's business school (Wharton) where he grew the school's reputation and he became an impressive nonprofit fundraiser. He labels that era of his leadership as being in an academic organization. It's my opinion that that era of his leadership was spent in a nonprofit organization. And lastly, the author moved on to leading in an entrepreneurial organization by starting his own company - The Palmer Group.

I loved the material included in chapters 5 (crisis) and 6 (change), but I found the content to be somewhat repetitive. I think the material could have been consolidated and made into one chapter. I think I would put that new chapter in an appendix since it did not relate directly to the author's three stories (Touche, Wharton, & Palmer). And chapters 3 (top-down management) and 10 (motivating employees) could be eliminated or relegated to appendix material, too.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Craig L. Howe on March 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Russell E. Palmer offers a unique look at what often seems like cliched topic - Leadership.

Drawing on his varied experience as head of one of the world's largest accounting firms, Dean of the Wharton School, and an entrepreneur, Palmer identifies the leadership model most appropriate for your situation.

Ultimately, leadership boils down to inspiration. Your ability to help organizations weather stormy seas and mold its culture to change with changing times is the ultimate test of your ability to lead. Understanding and applying principles is not enough. Your approach needs to change with the context of the situation.

Palmer supports his view with insights from leaders as diverse as Gordon Bethune, Larry Bossidy, David M. Cote, and Jacob Wallenberg, P.X. Kelley, Erik K. Shinseki, Tom Ehrlich, David Reibstein, Michael Useem, and Yoram (Jerry) Wind.

Leadership is never a coincidence. Palmer stresses it is built on character and performance standards to which everyone is held accountable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Author Russell Palmer contends that the "tool kit" a leader brings to the table, coupled with the factors present in each unique enviroment are key factors in leading with effectiveness--or not.

The author brings real-life situations to illustrate his points; I found the chapter on mergers and organizational changes most interesting as this is something that happens frequently in business and is a sweeping change with an almost storm-like effect on an organization and the leadership. The author contrasts the ineffective leader who only surrounds himself with people he can trust versus someone who embraces the change and takes risks, not only in whom he places on his team but in doing really deep investigation into things that could be deliberately hidden or played down (concealed debt, liabilities, failures in delivery, etc.) The author also discusses the necessity for personal recognizance even when there is no personal liability as a huge factor in determining if an organization will survive a change or go down like a house of cards.

The last chapter s a shopping list of traits an effective leader should aspire to, including following strategic plans, fostering innovation, exercising prudent and good judgment, building confidence, staying one step ahead and trusting and engaging contributors to release their potential.

A good set of advice with worthy examples of successes and failures.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a political junkie, I regularly watch the news shows that feature political news and comment. Recently, I have heard several statements by political commentators that many business leaders would be more comfortable voting for Barack Obama than Hillary Clinton or John McCain. The reasons for this preference are clear in chapter 9, which has the title "National Cultures and Context: Leading in a Global Environment." On page 157 there is the paragraph

"Americans, however, should not be tempted to expect to dictate our business practices and customs in different parts of the world any more than we can expect to impose our form of democracy on Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan. These customs and cultures have developed in many cases over more than a thousand years. How can we believe that we can - or even should - change all this overnight?"

Palmer then goes on to describe some of the experiences he has had in doing business internationally. This includes having the raw courage to fly into Beirut, Lebanon during the height of the Lebanese civil war in order to conclude a business deal. While there, he heard bombs going off and a person foolish enough to walk out on a nearby hotel balcony was shot. Since he was the only one willing to meet the potential clients on their turf, Palmer completed the deal.
It is clear that this man is very cognizant of how to successfully deal with other cultures, which any executive of a major corporation must be able to do. It is also clear that the companies that have benefited from the no-bid contracts in places like Iraq and Afghanistan have benefited enormously from the U. S. military actions in those countries.
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Ultimate Leadership: Winning Execution Strategies for Your Situation
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