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Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills Required for the Practice of Great Leadership Hardcover – February 22, 2011

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"To lead well, as this book makes deeply and powerfully clear, is first and foremost to know yourself, and second to put yourself in service to whatever you value most deeply. If you adopt that posture, whatever follows can be incorporated into making yourself into a better leader. And it is the purpose of this book to help you do so."
From the Foreword by Geoffrey Moore, managing director, TCG Advisors; author, Crossing the Chasm

Often, when leaders experience trouble, they look to blame an outside source or expect a small tweak to right their ship. But many times they have actually lost their grip on the basic foundation of their own leadership.

Unusually Excellent offers both seasoned and aspiring leaders a framework for understanding and a guide for applying the fundamentals of leadership at every stage in their careers. The business environment may change, but no management trend can displace the core laws, proven over centuries, of excellent leadership.

Leadership expert Hamm explains why leadership can't be mastered as a single concept or tool that can be pulled out of a hat when needed. Excellent leadership is composed of actions, ideas, emotions, cultural forces, history, and expectations that work together in an interconnected system. This system forms the core of the winning combination of superb Character, skill-based Competence, and professional Reputation. Hamm demonstrates that any leader can excel by consistently putting into action the Necessary Nine skills: being authentic, trustworthy, and compelling; leading people, strategy, and execution; communicating, making decisions, and making an impact.

Filled with vivid true stories, Unusually Excellent offers powerful, unforgettable leadership lessons, reinforced empirical evidence, and logical analysis. It will be your personal coach that will prepare you for the lifelong and ongoing journey towards exceptional leadership.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Unusually Excellent

"Unusually Excellent is a must read. John brings his powerful and fresh view of leadership to life in this thoughtful framework. He has combined three of his many strengths – intellectual rigor and honesty, deep domain experience, and passion for leading – in a highly readable, unforgettable book."
Mark King, president and CEO, TaylorMade-adidas Golf

"This is a wonderful book, and may well become a classic! Compelling. Comprehensive. Very readable. What a great place to start for any new leader in search of the essence of leadership, or for an experienced leader with the courage to re-learn those essentials again and again."
Patrick Lencioni, president, The Table Group; author, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

"Wow! This is an extremely compelling book for all business leaders. I am thrilled to see that John has put into words the same wisdom and value that I've realized through working with him as a coach and mentor. An absolute must read for all aspiring leaders."
David DeWalt, president and CEO, McAfee

"Unusually Excellent is unusually better than most books on leadership in its wisdom and practical advice. John's experience has the ring of enduring truth and he offers a personal and practical look across the spectrum of leadership, from character development through execution to leaving a legacy. A wonderful combination of 'hard' and 'soft' leadership, this book belongs on everyone's reading list."
Barry Z. Posner, PhD, professor of leadership; coauthor, The Leadership Challenge and The Truth About Leadership

"John's dedication to the study of leadership and personal experiences running companies and coaching CEOs have resulted in a valuable back-to-basics book that every aspiring business leader should read. He explains the nine essential skills for the practice of great leadership in a highly accessible and practical style that anyone with an interest in growing as a leader will benefit from."
Jeff Weiner, president and CEO, LinkedIn

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470928433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470928431
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My mentor and a fellow CEO sent me a copy of Hamm's book. Hamm's career allowed him to see many of the technology industry's "unusually excellent" leaders up close, and in this book he shares a practical framework for great leadership.

It's a quick read and the framework is useful to understand the core qualities that separate average leaders from unusually excellent leaders. Hamm's model notes that competence is only 1/3 of the battle, with credibility and consequence rounding our the model. Self-awareness, trust, a compass to navigate challenging decisions, the ability to share and empathize...are all EQ level traits. Pure competence, IQ, is not enough. Lehman, Enron, AIG....all companies full of high IQ people who lost their way and operated without a compass.

Hamm's book celebrates self-awareness and authenticity as key tenets of leadership. It's worth reading.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Tech Dad on March 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In Unusually Excellent, John Hamm writes compellingly, convincingly, and accessibly about the time-worn bedrock principles of leadership. Peppered with sports analogies and sprinkled with germane and interesting business anecdotes, Hamm shows us time and again that the most successful leaders are committed to a personal set of core principles that generate power--and a following--through authenticity. It's a reminder to all of us, regardless of whether we hope to helm a Girl Scout troop or a Fortune 500 firm, that having a strong moral compass--and committing to the direction that that compass points--is a timeless lesson we'd all do well to heed.

Unusually Excellent certainly is that, but it also happens to be unusually engrossing, enlightening, and entertaining. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. P. Michel on February 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is fundamentally a practical guide for leaders to realize their full potential. This book packages diagnosis, case studies, and actionable tools for leaders to achieve their best. It's a fabulous read - inspiring & exceptionally useful. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Doug Brent on April 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many leadership books ignore the necessary practice of management, and management books ignore the essentials of leadership. Hamm's model considers both simultaneously.

At times, our strengths and weaknesses as leaders can blind us to the whole tapestry of leadership/management requirements and skills. We focus on what we are particularly good at (or bad at) and forget about the other critical elements, or the context of legacy. The Unusually Excellent model is straightforward and complete, and a great framework within which to consider personal strengths and weaknesses.

Even though I wouldn't know a one wood from a putter, the golf and other sports analogies worked for me, and clearly were authentic for Hamm. The model is grounded with compelling stories that bring out the "color" behind the model.

The observations in the book match my own experience as a leader. Several times, I made notes in the book as I read along, only to find that point was coming in the next paragraph! The real-world business examples - successes and failures - were also very compelling.

Unusually Excellent is an engaging read that will give you new insight into the totality of skills necessary for the integrated discipline of leadership and management.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Voels on November 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not one of my favorites. I found that the author took the easy road by turning every example into a sports analogy. I'm a huge sports fan too, but resist the temptation compare everything to sporting events." I believe that the stories that were told in the book were rambling and boorish, only appealing to very few people. I made it through approximately half the book, but eventually found it intolerable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shahr Yar on June 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been reading many books on leadership and this is hands down the best one I've ever read. Leaders I've seen who fail at what it teaches are failing before my eyes. And those I've seen who have the characteristics, whether inherent or by honest dedication, earn their place as leaders because of the respect they earn and the accompanying success. I am seeing positive results for those whom I've recommended it to, and I intend to reread it as I embark on coming ventures.

My gratitude to the author for the lives, people, and world he is inspiring.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By BeyondJane on December 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I have worked in Silicon Valley for more than 15 years and know, first-hand, of what John speak about leaders who possess none or if only by accident or circumstance, too few the traits that he talks about. The results for an otherwise good and viable company are all to often a failed company. When I was green and learning management I had the great pleasure and honor of working for a key manager at HP (John speaks of HP's famed values in his book) at Reed Hasting's of Netflix first company. He and the rest of Reed's team set a management standard that I sadly, rarely found again in Silicon Valley. I will never forget the power of that team and what they did. The years after, lacking what I found at Pure Software, caused me to "get out" finally, tired of otherwise viable companies made C-rate with narcissists or insecure CEOs who had no idea of their self-interested, unconscious impacts. It seemed that leading was not valued or even seen as a critical part of making a company successful; well not often. I feel I have read many a book on leadership, and though they all have components that resonate no book I have read gets to real truth of what makes a good leader at any level. We have long forgotten the virtues and qualities that make a difference in a company; leadership. And it seems John has hit the nail on the proverbial head on this issue. I am heartened,of late, by what seems to be a trend to cut to the chase, get to the truth of many things in these fractured times, and this book comes at a time when we are all needing those who can truly see and give us the truth. This book is great even if you aren't running a company. It's a manifesto or being a "real" person no matter if you are leading or not. Though it pays off it's goal to give remind us what leadership is and does. It's for us all. Thanks John. It's a gift.
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