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The Zen Leader: 10 Ways to Go From Barely Managing to Leading Fearlessly Paperback – April 22, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw is both a leadership expert and a roshi (Zen master) in the Chozen-ji line of Rinzai Zen. Cofounder of Focus Leadership, she has taught and coached in countless programs to Global 1000 leaders, in part through her affiliation with Oliver Wyman Leadership Development and Columbia University's Senior Executive Program. Formerly Deputy Manager for integrating NASA's Space Station Program, she has a PhD in biophysics as well as a 5th degree black belt in Aikido.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Career Press; 1 edition (April 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601632118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601632111
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAME on May 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a driven over-achiever most of my life, and only started emerging from the "because I said so" culture so characteristic of the Marine Corps and the Central Intelligence Agency, when I realized in 1988 that everything we were doing was NOT WORKING, and I started looking beyond government, beyond command & control, beyond "rule by secrecy," for answers. Tom Atlee and his book, The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all were for me a rite of passage. Since embracing Tom's wisdom in 2004 I have read a great deal more. If Tom's book was my introduction to the world of collaboration and collective intelligence, then this book is my graduate-level portal in which I start the transformative process of moving away from impacting on"it" to being part of "it," a more neutral invested role that stops trying to project "the" answer on recalcitrant bureaucracies, and instead supports emerging networks such as Occupy and the Tea Party and the Freedom Node to Tower to Mesh movement.

I rate this book at six stars and beyond (my top 10% out of 1800+ non-fiction reviews) for multiple reasons.

First, as subtle and simple as it might appear on the surface, this is a DEEP book that represents hundreds of years of integrated understanding about both the zen of being and the zen of teaching leaders who want to change but are at a loss for going about it. I see myself often in this book, generally when the author is describing Epoch A leaders with deeply ingrained habits of command and control.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Two months before Ernest Becker's Denial of Death was published in 1974, he died of cancer at age 49. The core concept in his book is that no one can deny physical death. Only the suicide can control when. However, there is another form of death than [begin italics] can [end italics] be denied: That which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others' expectations of us.

I thought of that as I read Ginny Whitelaw's Introduction to The Zen Leader in which she urges her reader -- under intense and severe pressure by others to perform "leaner, smarter, faster, cheaper" -- not give up or give in. Use the pressure rather than be used by it to "propel breakthrough development and leaps to new consciousness, to "give way" to a "radical" reframing and inversion -- a "flip that takes many forms." For example, transitions such as these: from coping with constant pressure from outside-in to "diving right in and transforming situations from inside-out"; from exhausting oneself and others from the relentless drive for results to "attracting the future and people who help create it; and from [begin italics] being [end italics] one's personality to [begin italics] seeing [end italics] one's personality "and applying the right kind of energy to any situation."

Whitelaw provides ten "Zen Leader Flip" mini-tutorials to help her reader to "break free and flip to the next stage of personal development. More specifically, to complete transitions from...

1. Coping > Transforming (Pages 32-35)
2. Tension > Extension (47-51)
3. Or > And (72-75)
4. "Out here" > "In Here" (91-97)
5. Playing to Your Strengths > Strengthening Your Play (125-129)
6. Controlling > Connecting (141-146)
7. From Driving Results > Attracting the Future (171-179)
8.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found the "The Zen Leader" to be a wonderful book. It provides good, practical guidance on to how to maximize both your business and "life" performance, whether you are a junior employee, a mid-level manager, or the leader of an organization. The real strength of Dr. Whitelaw's book is the prescription it provides for reframing our perceptions in a way that can help us access greater effectiveness and satisfaction.

"The Zen Leader" describes ten "flips" - or changes in perspective - that help us see the "Big Picture" and your role in that picture. Dr. Whitelaw grounds these flips in Zen, but she addresses them in a straightforward way geared towards a business audience. The ten flips can be enormously helpful. By way of analogy, imagine that you are stuck in a battle and confronted with serious threats, opportunities for victory, and a slew of incoming tasks. We have all been in such situations and sometimes it is easy to feel that the best that we can do is to cope. But imagine you have the chance to jump in a helicopter that rises above the battleground and hovers from where you can survey everything: the terrain, the various players, apparent strengths and weaknesses of your position, and even you! How valuable would this perspective be? Wouldn't it be an advantage in helping you determine how best to move forward? Whitelaw's book provides advice on how to achieve just this type of "big picture" so that you can know yourself and the people and world with which you interact, and determine the best path to travel.

Along with the ten "flips", the book covers four basic energy patterns or individual styles of activity: "Driver", "Organizer", "Collaborator", and "Visionary".
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