The Plan of the Book
The book is organized according to the contexts that leaders are most likely to encounter. It is not meant to be exhaustive—and thereby risk being exhausting—but rather to provide models that can help you apply the principles of leadership in contexts that I do not specifically cover.
The first two chapters are a general introduction to the fundamentals of leadership. The central theme of Chapter 2, “The Many Contexts of Leadership,” is that leaders are often not aware that the different contexts in which they operate can require them to adapt their leadership style in order to be successful. I list some of the more important contexts that I develop more completely in later chapters.
Chapters 3 through 9, grouped under the title, “Mastering the Contexts of Leadership,” are the heart of the book and describe the contexts that all leaders should be aware of to be successful. They begin with Chapter 3, “The Top-Down Organization: Learning That It’s Not So Simple.” Even a strong leader in a typical hierarchical organization can soon find out that dealing with outside organizations often requires a more collaborative style than the direct organizational style that works at the home office. In this chapter, and in all of the chapters in “Mastering the Contexts of Leadership,” I weave in the principles of leadership that I have described above as appropriate to the context.
Chapter 4, “The Organization of Peers: Leading Your Equals,” takes you into the ambiguous world of dealing with peers. You will perhaps find no challenge that is more difficult than working with other leaders to achieve some common purpose. I suggest a number of ways that you can meet this challenge.
I believe that though effective leadership is always important to the success of an organization, it is absolutely critical in times of crisis. In Chapter 5, “The Organization in Crisis: Turning Danger into Opportunity,” I argue that leaders need to look at crises as opportunities. Yes, a crisis is a danger, but it also can provide the platform for fundamental organization transformation into a vibrant new player in whatever environment you happen to be operating.
It is not enough to realize the need for change in your organization. You must often face the opposition of the organization’s culture that may view change as a threat. In Chapter 6, “When Organizations Change: Transforming the Culture,” I describe the two major kinds of change—change within a single organization and the change that occurs when two different organizations merge—and explain ways that you can reassure balky workers that they have more to fear from not changing than from changing to meet a changed world.
There are special challenges for entrepreneurial leaders, and in Chapter 7, “The Entrepreneurial Organization: Sharing Your Vision with Others,” I make the point that entrepreneurs have a unique position: They are alone. They may have investors, advisors, and so forth, but they are the decision makers, and usually make decisions very quickly. This makes it possible for entrepreneurs to execute very fast. That is why entrepreneurial environments provide fertile ground for leadership. But the risk is that entrepreneurs may try to do it all rather than develop a group of trusted associates who can share the burden of decision making.
Leaders outside of the academic world often consider it an ivory tower with nothing to teach those in the “real world.” I believe this to be a great mistake, and in Chapter 8, “The Academic Organization: Learning from the Wharton Experience,” I describe—partly from my own experience—how academic leaders often face the same kinds of challenges as other leaders. Their responses hold valuable lessons for those outside the academic world.
Even in your own organization, there are different contexts. In Chapter 9, “National Cultures and Context: Leading in a Global Environment,” I describe how leaders must understand the special place that culture and social norms occupy in a global organization. Leadership styles that work well in some cultures may be perceived as handicaps in others.
Having explored the different contexts in which leaders may be required to exercise leadership principles, in Chapter 10, “The Heart of Leadership: Motivating Workers,” I return to describe possibly the most important attribute every leader must have: the ability to motivate his or her constituents. Finally, in Chapter 11, “Putting It Altogether,” I return to the principles of leadership and describe how they can differ in application depending on different contexts.