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Ultimate Leadership: Winning Execution Strategies for Your Situation

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Ultimate Leadership: Winning Execution Strategies for Your Situation

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This book explains how to correct a leader's greatest mistake: failing to adapt their leadership style.  

  • Explains the principles to make a leader successful in any organization and any type of environment.
  • As a consultant and former dean of Wharton, the author is experienced in leading in different contexts.
  • Includes first-rate interviews, e.g., Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell; Tony Kobayashi, chairman of Fuji Xerox; and Gen. P.X. Kelley, former commandant of the Marine Corps.


  • Copyright 2008
  • Edition: 1st
  • Premium Website
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-193386-8
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-193386-6

“All the management advice in the world won’t help you much if you can’t adapt it to actual situations. That’s where Russ Palmer stands out. These are smart, practical leadership principles that are tried and tested in real-world business circumstances.”

--Edward Whitacre, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of AT&T, former Chairman and CEO of AT&T and Southwest Bell

“It is very fitting that Ultimate Leadership is authored by Russ Palmer, the ultimate leader. It was with his guidance and friendship that I successfully transitioned from four orderly decades as a Marine to the arcane world of corporate America.”

--General P.X. Kelley, USMC (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps

“Russ Palmer’s Ultimate Leadership is truly the last book you’ll ever need on the subject. Russ shows once again why he is the dean when it comes to explaining why leadership matters. Ultimate Leadership is the ultimate statement on how leaders in business, government, and nonprofits alike can keep up with changes and conquer diverse organizational contexts.”

--John J. DiIulio, Jr., Frederic Fox Leadership Professor, University of Pennsylvania, former director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

“This book about leadership from a contextual viewpoint is nothing short of brilliant. Russ’s easy-to-read book is filled with practical examples of leading from the context of a particular situation. The steps to extraordinary leadership are not hugely different, but the applications are endless. Thank you, Russ, for making sense out of a very disputable subject.”

--Gerard R. Roche, Chairman of Heidrick & Struggles

“This book is refreshing proof that the essential personal traits of successful leaders are identifiable. Russ Palmer presents them in a manner providing great reading and much food for thought.”

--Gordon Bethune, Chairman, Aloha Airgroup, former CEO, Continental Airlines

“Leadership is essential for all seasons, but its effective exercise depends much upon the season. In a masterful account, Russ Palmer draws on his rich store of personal experience to show how adaptive leadership makes the difference. For understanding what actions are required of all leaders--and how those actions must also be tailored to circumstance--Ultimate Leadership is the essential read.”

--Michael Useem, Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership at the Wharton School, and author of The Go Point: When It’s Time to Decide

Go Beyond Generic Leadership: Become an Outstanding Leader in Your Unique Environment

To succeed, leaders must understand and apply the core principles of leadership--but that’s not enough. You need to shape your approach for any unique situation. Too many leaders don’t know how to do that--and that’s why they fail. Ultimate Leadership shows how to adapt the principles of leadership to different challenges, contexts, and organizations.

Russell E. Palmer--who has had three very different, highly successful careers as head of one of the world’s largest accounting firms, Dean of the Wharton School, and an entrepreneur--helps you identify the leadership model most appropriate for your environment, and how to lead accordingly. You’ll learn better ways to lead your equals, help an organization weather crises, transform its culture, lead entrepreneurial organizations, lead global organizations...even lead non-profit and academic institutions.

Then, drawing on interviews with an extraordinary spectrum of outstanding leaders, Palmer helps you master the attribute every leader must have: the ability to inspire your unique organization, even in the face

of the most daunting challenges.

• Achieving empowerment, even in classic “top-down” organizations

    Exercising strong authority without falling victim to ego or closed-mindedness

• Transforming an organization of peers

    Driving changes in a strategic direction when key power centers disagree

• Turning danger into opportunity

    Mastering the art of rapid, focused, hands-on execution for organizations in crisis

• Leading cultural change that sticks

    Reconnecting structures, processes, and strategies with the new realities you face

• Learning from the Wharton experience

    Succeeding in an environment with widely diverse, highly influential stakeholders

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Leadership Principles: The Basis of Successful Leadership

Table of Contents

Foreword  xi

Preface  xiii

About the Author  xvii

List of Contributors  xix

Acknowledgments  xxi

Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Leadership

Chapter 1        Leadership Principles: The Basis of Successful Leadership  3

Chapter 2        The Many Contexts of Leadership  15

Mastering the Contexts of Leadership

Chapter 3        The Top-Down Organization: Learning That It’s Not So Simple  25

Chapter 4        The Organization of Peers: Leading Your Equals  41

Chapter 5        The Organization in Crisis: Turning Danger into Opportunity  61

Chapter 6        When Organizations Change: Transforming the Culture  79

Chapter 7        The Entrepreneurial Organization: Sharing Your Vision with Others  105

Chapter 8        The Academic Organization: Learning from the Wharton Experience  131

Chapter 9        National Cultures and Context: Leading in a Global Environment  153

The Wider View of Leadership

Chapter 10      The Heart of Leadership: Motivating Workers  179

Chapter 11      Putting it All Together  197

Contributor Biographies  207

Index  211



PrintNumber ErrorLocation Error Correction DateAdded
1 pvii The Grandkids And The Grandkids 5/22/2008
1 pxx Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, former Chief of Staff of the Army 5/22/2008
1 p8 Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, who headed the Joint Chiefs of Staff and led the U.S. military effort to bring peace to Bosnia; Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, who was Chief of Staff of the Army and led the U.S. military effort to bring peace to Bosnia; 5/22/2008
1 p32 Gen. P.X. Kelley had the following lessons to offer about leadership to cadets at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia:


A marine officer who abuses his authority is an absolute coward, for he resorts to fear when he is unable to earn respect.
Gen. P.X. Kelley had the following lessons to offer about leadership to Marines at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia:


A Marine officer who abuses his authority is an absolute coward, for he resorts to fear when he is unable to earn respect.
1 p181 General Kelly responded, “Then why don’t you turn around, and play me a tune?” General Kelley responded, “Then why don’t you turn around, and play me a tune?” 5/22/2008

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