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The Extraordinary Leader : Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders Hardcover – July 25, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A No-Nonsense, Battle-Tested Program for Developing Exceptional Leadership Skills—Both In Your Organization and Yourself

The ability to lead, far more than just a natural gift, is a concrete and learnable skill—one that can be acquired by studying and applying specific proficiencies and attitudes. The Extraordinary Leader draws on responses from 200,000 questionnaires to define the skills that comprise effective leadership, and then provides a systematic and innovative program for attaining, developing, and implementing those skills.

Praise for The Extraordinary Leader:

"The Extraordinary Leader attacks cherished but unsupportable assumptions, and does it persuasively, precisely, and professionally. Through their exceptional research the authors demonstrate and prove that leadership does make a difference, and that you can learn to lead."—James M. Kouzes, Chairman Emeritus, Tom Peters Company, Coauthor, The Leadership Challenge and Encouraging the Heart

"Extraordinarily readable! This book represents some of the best thinking on leadership I’ve seen in a long while."—E. David Spong, President, Military Aerospace Support, The Boeing Company

"This is a ‘must read’ for coaches, leaders, and those who develop them. The Extraordinary Leader goes beyond anecdotes or ‘war stories,’ it builds upon comprehensive research. It is destined to be a classic in our field."—Marshall Goldsmith, Named by Forbes as one of five top executive coaches and one of Wall Street Journal’s "Top 10" executive educators

"Our objective is to provide the reader with an empirical analysis of leadership, a simple and practical conceptual model of what leadership is, and an actionable guide to helping leaders develop ‘greatness.’"—From Chapter 1

From the Back Cover

A No-Nonsense, Battle-Tested Program for Developing Exceptional Leadership Skills - ­­Both In Your Organization and Yourself

The ability to lead, far more than just a natural gift, is a concrete and learnable skill­­ - one that can be acquired by studying and applying specific proficiencies and attitudes. The Extraordinary Leader draws on responses from 200,000 questionnaires to define the skills that comprise effective leadership, and then provides a systematic and innovative program for attaining, developing, and implementing those skills.

Praise for The Extraordinary Leader:

"The Extraordinary Leader attacks cherished but unsupportable assumptions, and does it persuasively, precisely, and professionally. Through their exceptional research the authors demonstrate and prove that leadership does make a difference, and that you can learn to lead."­ - James M. Kouzes, Chairman Emeritus, Tom Peters Company, Coauthor, The Leadership Challenge and Encouraging the Heart

"Extraordinarily readable! This book represents some of the best thinking on leadership I've seen in a long while." - ­­E. David Spong, President, Military Aerospace Support, The Boeing Company

"This is a 'must read' for coaches, leaders, and those who develop them. The Extraordinary Leader goes beyond anecdotes or 'war stories,' it builds upon comprehensive research. It is destined to be a classic in our field."­­ - Marshall Goldsmith, Named by Forbes as one of five top executive coaches and one of Wall Street Journal's "Top 10" executive educators

"Our objective is to provide the reader with an empirical analysis of leadership, a simple and practical conceptual model of what leadership is, and an actionable guide to helping leaders develop 'greatness.'" ­­- From Chapter 1

For too long, the subject of effective leadership has been shrouded in fog and ambiguity. The Extraordinary Leader removes the shroud to reveal leadership as a skill, one that can be consciously learned and developed by anyone. This breakthrough book identifies the competencies necessary for effective leadership, not by guessing or postulating but by analyzing the responses of tens of thousands of workforce members as they describe, in effect, "What makes a great leader?"

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman­­ - two of today's preeminent leadership experts­­analyze the answers and provide a broad and universal model for achieving exceptional results. They outline the five core competencies that form the basis for successful leadership and detail techniques that include:

  • Methods that top organizations use to develop leaders from within their own ranks
  • Key competencies that leaders must have­­and techniques for mastering them
  • Practical steps for developing your own leadership skills

A major weakness in most leadership development programs has been the tendency to aim low and strive for incremental improvements in individual areas of weakness. When the results inevitably fail to impact the bottom line, organizations abandon programs as unsuccessful­­ and again resume their misguided focus on uncovering and eliminating leadership weaknesses instead of identifying and developing leadership strengths. The Extraordinary Leader instead focuses on the ability­­--in fact the necessity­­--for individuals to hone their leadership competencies in multiple areas, and organizations to develop great leaders in as many areas as possible. It provides research-based strategies for strengthening leadership both in individuals and in organizations and, in the process, delivers a solid yet flexible leadership development program that will provide long-term value to virtually any organization.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (July 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071387471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071387477
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,664,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dorothy M. Young on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
. . . to find out the HOW. The authors make great hay of defining the WHAT -- What is a good leader? What characteristics are essential, and which are nice-to-have? What are the fatal flaws that will torpedo a career and a team? But it's short on the Hows -- how can I develop these characteristics. My company has adopted the dimensions of THE EXTRAORDINARY LEADER for our evaluation and appraisal system for managers so I'm working through it with the managers who report to me. We are finding gaps in the text to tell us how to develop ourselves so we are filing in for ourselves -- being the extraordinary leaders we are! <grin>

Incidentally, I've gone through the 360-degree feedback the Zenger company offers. The company is having us do that exercise from the top down. I found it helpful, but it's not for the faint of heart. For a mediocre manager or for a manager with enemies, it can be absolutely devastating.
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Format: Hardcover
In practically any athletic endeavor, executing a successful "follow through" is critical in achieving superior results. Now, John H Zenger & Joeseph R Folkman demonstrate that concept applies to developing good leadership skills, as well. Welcome to the world of 21st century leadership; extraordinary leaders are created through extensive research & development along with a willingness to learn.

In this extraordinarily pragmatic study of leadership, Zenger & Folkman shed new light on issues that were previously considered vague and difficult to measure. Their study corroborates Douglas W Hubbard's findings in How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business, as well as Daniel Coyle's conclusions in his groundbreaking book, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.. Leadership can certainly be taught, and its effectiveness is tangible; measurable.

The significance of this study is, appropriately, extraordinary. The psychology of leadership is seen in a new light and gives us new insight, from a global leadershp perspective. In short, this could be the most comprehensive study of leadership, ever.

For any organization striving to train & develop a new breed of dynamic leaders, this is the handbook to guide them through that process.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the two or three better books on leadership in my opinion. Contemporary, based on recent solid research. As a management consultant, confirmed many of the principles and concepts I embrace while adding several new, valid ones. Very practical, with sound, "I can use now" applications.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't know what to say about this book. It has a lot to say, and a lot of promise. I believe they really know what they are talking about. Unfortunately the details I was looking for, the nitty gritty of the message it is trying to convey are no where to be found here. Instead, at nearly every opportunity, when I was dying to get something I could really sink my teeth into, I was directed to their website. There, I found I was welcome to contact their sales department where I could spend oodles of money to find out what the book had seemed to promise. In the end I felt like I was locked into watching a very long, very well done infomercial. One that kept teasing me into hanging on, hoping for more, but in the end never really delivering. I would not recommend this book to anyone not planning on engaging them for the whole enchilada regardless of the cost.
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Format: Hardcover
Unlike many studies of leadership and management, this book roots out how human behaviors affect results - with robust research and anecdotal evidence that provides readers with progressive but comprehensible logic. It is the best business book I have encountered, because it balances reality against theory, and effectively reconciles the two. It is a bonus that the authors did not impose academic terminology on those of us in the real business world.
The great thing is that the authors took the time to quantify and then explain how perceptions of leaders translate into actions by those they lead. The best thing about the book is that it lists specific levels of characteristics and competencies that distinguish adequate from excellent. A reader can quickly paint a self portrait (or picture of fellow leaders, for that matter) that reveals strengths and flaws. Then, one can easily identify what is needed to move up the ladder of respect and esteem. The hard part is that many leaders, as they say in the book, "think that being 'good' is good enough". For those who truly have an interest in greatness, this book gives the recipe.
Easy to follow, it thoughtfully breaks down the elements of leadership, starting with broad categories that are boiled down into actionable behaviors and traits. The Extraordinary Leader also gives some surprising insights based on findings that will hopefully change how business leaders establish value systems and shape company culture.
This book has become an extremely valuable tool in my consulting practice!
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Format: Hardcover
For the past two years I have been working as a consultant on the creation of an executive service for the UN. More recently I have played a similar role for the US federal government. I have become a student of the thinking and the books on developing leaders. This book is by far the most important book to read. Its based solidly on research findings but more importantly on intuitively valid conclusions. It makes practical sense.
It takes the current state of the art and moves it forward. It also raises important questions about prevailing beliefs and practices. The ideas developed in this book make you realize why most executive development is not productive.
I see this book as a companion piece to another of the great books on the subject, Results-Based Leadership. Jack Zenger is one of the authors of both books.
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