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Showing 1-10 of 101 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 137 reviews
on July 12, 2012
This is one of the best leadership books I have ever read. It is more than a business book, there is a spiritual component to it. The book talks about the difficulty of leadership, and mostly about staying alive in the process. In leadership, you are dangerous to people. The reason is that you are challenging the norm, which is unnerving for people. You are moving a group of people forward, and people feel a loss. But the key is moving people forward at a rate they can handle. As ministers, this is important lessons. A leader might too quickly move forward, not realizing the emotional attachment to the past. When you do this, there are going to be consequence, you can become attacked, marginalized, diverted, or seduced. There are natural tactics for those who are seeking to stop the progress. The book deals with some uncommon material, but not uncommon areas of concern for leadership. It talks about keeping security around you. This is a group of people who are trusted, and will tell you the truth, it means keeping your wife close, because a leader can be seduced with sex. This book comes to the heart of leadership, and the pleasure and pains of it better than almost all books on the topic. It talks about pre-meetings, not that this has happened in the church. It talks about stalk holders, are those with the most to lose with a change. Often a leader surrounds themselves with those who agree, but in reality, he needs to stay most connected to those who disagree. The people who are the quickest to stand with you, are often the ones with the lest to loose. Therefore those who oppose you, are the ones that will stand most with you in the long run. It talks about handling distress. Ok, this book talks about the heart of leadership, and there are so many topics that are addressed, it is just one of the best, and for preachers, it is a key book. Sometimes I am excited for a book, and there are times when this book should be in the classroom of every graduate school across the nation. It is that good and helpful.
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on May 6, 2017
A great book about being a change agent as opposed to a manager, with practical advice about what to expect from your supporters, enemies and allies, how to turn up the heat or reduce it, and nurture yourself so that you don’t become a hard and angry version of you.

Critics complain that the book is lodged in a hierarchical paradigm and irrelevant to a millennial outlook. I disagree. The book deals with cases where there are authority figures that need to be read, interpreted and influenced. Plenty of people are still working in environments where there are authority figures - even in startups, few remain fully flat and egalitarian as the evolve. More to the point, the book deals extensively with tactics that don't specifically apply to traditional hierarchies at all and are appropriate to peer-to-peer and community change creation.
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on June 28, 2017
Overall a good book that offers numerous suggestions for improving leadership from a unique perspective. That said, the authors wrote from a very religious, conservative perspective and made their position known throughout the book. The book is full of weird overtones of anti-alcohol consumption (evident by the examples used in the book) and "controlling one's sexual impulses" (which an entire chapter is devoted to this). Needless to say, the book has a strong spiritual component to it. For some readers, that is might be perfect, but for me I just wanted a book on leadership without the preaching.
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on October 3, 2009
Heifitz and Linsky write that leading people through difficult change, challenging what they hold dear, can be a dangerous enterprise. They say, "This book is about putting yourself and your ideas on the line, responding effectively to the risks, and living to celebrate the meaning of your efforts" (3). The book is arranged according to three fundamental questions the authors attempt to answer: Why or how is leadership dangerous? How can a leader respond to the dangers? And how can a leader keep his or her spirit alive when leading becomes difficult?
First, why or how is leadership dangerous? One persistent perception in leadership is that most people are resistant to change. Heifetz and Linsky posit that it is not change per se that people resist, but loss (11). Leadership becomes dangerous when leaders question people's habits, values, and beliefs and people cannot see the bright future leaders ask them to sacrifice for, but see only suggested possibilities requiring great loss (12). It is adaptive change rather than technical challenges which cause so much of the danger in leading (13). Technical problems are the ones for which the organization already has the answer. Adaptive challenges require painful transition in attitudes, values, and/or behaviors. Adaptive change must be internalized by the people with the problem. Hearts and minds must change not just preferences or routine behaviors (60). People can push back against leaders during adaptive change in a variety of ways. Leaders are in danger of being marginalized and attacked personally under the assumption that if you take down the leader the issues will go away. Leaders can be seduced by their own human appetites or their need for approval and lose their sense of purpose (32-45).
Secondly, how can leaders respond to the dangers of leading through adaptive change? It is necessary for leaders to practice the discipline of gaining perspective in the midst of battle, including the ability to see the leader's own role in the conflict (51-54). Leaders will also need to learn how to operate in the midst of the various relationships within the organization - including partners, opponents, and the uncommitted mass of people the leader is attempting to move through adaptive change (89-100). Another way leaders can respond to the dangers is to orchestrate the conflict by creating holding environments in which to work through the process of change, knowing how to manage the stress within the organization, pacing the work, and continually casting a vision of the future (102-120). Leaders can also work to take the burden for change off of their own shoulders and appropriately place the work with the people within the organization (123). Leaders must also learn to maintain a steady course throughout the change process by knowing how to take the heat from angry followers, allow for the appropriate time to act on issues, and keep everyone's attention focused on the issues (141-154).
Third question: how can a leader keep his or her spirit alive when leading becomes difficult? Heifetz and Linsky offer four suggestions. Leaders need to learn to manage their natural human appetites, especially the desire for intimacy, and to care for themselves so that they do not contribute to their own demise (163). Another strategy for leaders is to differentiate between the role of leader and who they are personally (187). A third coping strategy is for leaders to be clear on why they are leading and to keep the bigger picture in focus (209). Finally, the authors recommend that leaders continually develop and protect within themselves the qualities of innocence, curiosity, and compassion (225).

The authors succeed in their stated purpose of answering their three fundamental questions. By using honest language and real world examples, some personal and painful, the authors equip readers with a good understanding of the nature of leading through adaptive change. At the same, the authors are honest about how leading is an improvisational skill. They have not written a technical "how-to" book, but an honest assessment of the change process and the things leaders can do in the midst of that process to stay healthy and connected. Because the nature of leadership sometimes involves being out front and guiding others into an unknown future, leaders from all walks of life would benefit from reading this book. Leadership on the Line is about the dynamics of relationships within an organization as people face adaptive change. Leaders who reflect on the issues raised and the suggestions made by the authors will have a better understanding of how to stay connected to themselves and to their followers as they walk together and confront painful transitions.
Ministerial leaders may be hesitant to read Leadership on the Line because it is a secular source not written to specifically address the dynamics of congregational leadership. This would be a mistake, however, because the book is surprisingly relevant to ministerial leadership issues. It is usually accepted as a given that today's churches find themselves in a rough sea of change, and there are countless volumes available making the case for why change is necessary and what the church should look like on the other side of change. But pastors may have a difficult time finding books like Leadership on the Line that describe why their congregation prefers solving technical problems and not embracing the process of adaptive change, and how the pastor can operate through the process.
It may be that church culture does not allow for such an honest discussion on the dangers of church leadership because of the high ideals and expectations involved with beings God's people. But who has not been wounded and scarred by relationships in the body of Christ? Peter L. Steinke writes how people and entire congregations are susceptible to the effects of anxiety, which is heightened during adaptive change, and he echoes Heifetz and Linsky by stating that how the pastor responds to the anxiety and conflict, rather than the conflict itself, will determine the outcome (Peter L. Steinke, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2006). Studies have shown that one of the two main reasons pastors leave local church ministry is because of church conflict (Dean R. Hoge and Jacqueline E. Wenger. Pastors in Transition: Why Clergy Leave Local Church Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005, 76). Seminary courses in pastoral leadership often speak of the reality of dangers in congregational leadership, but often do not give the needed depth of study to equip pastors for the process of adaptive change. This makes Leadership on the Line an important companion because it helps the ministerial leader to think about why leading is so dangerous, what is at stake for congregants, how to operate in the heat of battle, and how to take care of their personal lives and stay connected to others at the same time. It is also a good reminder of the purpose of leading and the joys involved. This is especially true of congregational leadership.
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on March 9, 2014
What is particularly important about this book is that it begs to be read over again as ones career or role progresses. When read for the first time it is with the mindset/ point of view of where one is at that time in their profession. In another company/role/job the scene and players change. And, picking up the book to read, once again, it is as if you barely read it the first time. The authors bungee jump between ideas and real lessons; they dissect the learning and tie it back their understanding about the perils of taking a stand, and leading. They use metaphors that stick and resonate to such an extent one weaves them into their own vocabulary: song beneath the words, getting on the balcony, giving back the work or managing your hungers. The books serves as a building block towards one's own mental model of what leadership means whether you are early in your career or already in the C-suite, because the landscape is always shifting and those mental models serve as an anchor.
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on July 21, 2017
This book solidly delivers the right formula for taking leadership to the next level, especially when bringing others along with you to meet unknown challenges along the way.
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on August 20, 2013
This book is helpful in understanding the importance of leadership in everyday life. Heifetz and Linsky discuss the risks and benefits of leadership and discuss why one would take on a leadership role in one's own life. The material is easily read and understood, so it is an easy read. Though, for academic purposes, it tends to be a little informal and does not make a fantastic resource. With that being said, this book is very insightful and takes a realistic approach to the benefits and risks of leadership.
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on October 18, 2016
Great book. Very informative. Needed it for a class and will use it for years to come.
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on August 22, 2014
Good book. Unlike most leadership books that talk about how leadership involves being motivational and inspirational while glossing over, or ignoring altogether, the difficult side of leadership this book tackles it head on. Actually, it is a leadership book that focus on the tough decisions leadership faces and how handle those moments. If you need an inspirational leadership book there are plenty out there. If you want a leadership book discusses the reality of leadership, this is a good one to start with.
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on October 22, 2016
great book
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