Leadership Emerging: Descriptions of Books, Articles and Other Media

Leadership Emerging / August 2011

Descriptions of varying lengths of books, articles and other media that might be of interest to those who are interested in leading and leadership.

Russ Volckmann


Bruce J. Avolio. Full Range Leadership, 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2011.

Bruce Avolio has been a top researcher and thought leader in the area of leader development for many years. (See interview, http://integralleadershipreview.com/2011/06/fresh-perspective-3/), The 2nd edition of his major work on leader development reflects much of the evolution of his thinking over the last decade. This work has been informed by working with leader development around the world and in the United States, notably at West Point and the US Army.

This work is an important step forward because it talks about leadership as a system. It is a step forward because Avolio attempts to include aspects of the leader as personality along with attention to culture and systems. In my book, this is a huge step toward an integral perspective compared to most of the traditional work in leadership studies.

Among his key learnings over the last decade are:

Seeing leadership as a relationship between leader and follower.
The importance of authenticity in leading,
The importance of developmental readiness for individual leader development, and
All leadership is shared.

All of these are part of the step forward, but he leads me still wanting to see a strong recognition that heroic assumptions about leading lead us all into dark waters when we do not recognize that the hero and his/her actions are but a step in a far more complex and dynamic processes that includes all of the variable that Avolio now embraces. And he does not disappoint me: “…once we dress anyone up as a hero, we then poroceed toi find ways to destroy them.”  (13) This has been a truth I have intellectually recognized for decades and found all too scare in the leadership literature, as well as the integral literature.

When it comes to developmental readiness, I am drawn to this statement, “One of the challenges I see in developing leadership is getting you to be open to enhancing the complexity through which you view yourself in a leader role.” (19) Observations such as this in Avolio’s work reflects the influence of Robert Kegan, in particular, in leader development at West Point and the US Army (as well as elsewhere).

He also recognizes the difference between pseudo-transformational and transformational leading. The latter is characterized by individuals who are self-aggrandizing, dominating, exploitive of others, manipulative and uniting others through fear and compliance. The latter is characterized by a vision of a desirable future (for all?), is empathic and consensus seeking, seeks follower independence and diversity, seeks unity though internalization of mission and values, and is self-sacrificing and trustworthy. How exciting if such descriptions were enhanced by a more nuanced understanding of development as, for example, in the work of Clare Grave, Chris Cowan and Don Beck.

The book is rich with useful material, not the least of which is Avolio’s presentations of core principles. For example:

Principle 1: The most exemplary leaders, teams, and organizations are balanced in how they manage their vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities are embraced, understood, dealt with, and certainly not avoided (151).

Principle 2: through identification, the greatest force for control is created between leaders and followers, and that force is called commitment, not compliance (155).

Principle 4: The leaders demonstrate a perspective or frame of reference or both that they can put themselves in those situations that others endure that maybe are different from their own, which enables them to fully appreciate how others feel and react (165)

Finally, when we look at his final chapter, “Advances,” we find additional insights, such as that most leader development programs are not genuine. This does not support authenticity in leaders. Surprisingly, he adds that the most effective leader development occurs in natural environments, such as the organization, rather than the classroom. He emphasizes the four key components of authentic leadership (a term he was using long before Bill George published his well known business leadership book by that name). Authentic leading involves:

High levels of self-awareness,
Relational transparency authentic openness about thoughts, beliefs, etc.),
Balanced processing in which they include other perspectives and information, and
Highly developed moral perspective, the ethical side of leading.

If you are interested in leading and leadership, this is a must have book for your understanding of the role of leader and what it takes to fill it and the importance of culture and systems.

Thomas H. Lee. “Turning doctors into Leaders: Medicine is in for a radical changes as the old guard gives way to performance-driven teams.” Harvard Business Review 88. 4 (April 2010) 50-58.

I have the wonderful opportunity to teach a course on Leadership in Healthcare for the Saybrook University Mind Body Medicine PhD program this Fall. I spent twelve years consulting with a large healthcare organization and a number of other healthcare related organizations and agencies over a 22-year period as an organization development consultant. I remember an intervention in the early 1980s involving the pharmacy department of a large state-run residential hospital for the developmentally disabled. At that time there was a great deal of conflict within the pharmacy department that had extended of law-breaking activity against fellow pharmacists. Part of the issue was the conflict between old line pharmacists who had been in the state system for many years and younger pharmacists, many recruited out of a university medical center program that was team-based. That is, pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others worked as a team on health care delivery to patients. One of the reasons this was important is that pharmacists understood a lot more about the interactions among drugs prescribed to patients than did the doctors and others.

Lee is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He cites the current state of health care with its more effective technology, including pharmaceuticals, which are more expensive in a world trying to control health costs. “But this explosion of knowledge is going off within a system too fragmented and disorganized to absorb it. The result is chaos.” (52) In other words, things haven’t changed much in the human dynamics of healthcare today compared with what was happening in that pharmaceutical department thirty years ago.

He goes on to say that leaders in health care must attend to “three painful messages” (52):

Performance matters and this is measured by patient wellbeing, not the number of patients seen.
“Value” is not a bad word. It means achieving desirable outcomes efficiently. This prompts a push for improvement.
Improvements in performance require teamwork; “superior coordination, information sharing, and teamwork across disciplines are required if value and outcomes are to improve” (52).

Lee’s solutions are not particularly surprising to the leadership field that has been touting these approaches for a long time.

Articulate a vision and values, while attending to what clinicians currently do and what will be different in the future.
Use a team approach. This includes in the relationship between doctors and administrators through collocation
Developing a measurement system that would be the healthcare equivalent to a triple bottom line. This would be “value-oriented performance measurement” (56).
Building effective teams, despite the attachment of “heroic lone healers to the heroic.”
Improving processes, the equivalent of a healthcare TQM that reduces errors and enhances outcomes.
Dismantling cultural barriers—characterized by autonomy—to collaboration.

These are not so different as what we were working toward thirty (or more) years ago in healthcare and in other organizations. I wonder how much more effective this would be if it were integrally and developmentally informed. In addition, work on transdisciplinarity in recent years has much to offer to this work.

Jena McGregor, “Why Imagining Success Can Make you Fail,” The Washington Post. 9 June 2011. Web. 1 August 2011.

OK. Now nothing is sacred. There is nothing left. All has been exposed and disposed of. There is nothing to hold on to.

All of these years we have been taught or read about imaging to enhance performance. This principle has been applied to professional and amateur sports, musicians and other performers and maybe even your dating experiences. Just to make sure you are following here, what I refer to is the importance of imaging performance to enhance success. It has been a fundamental intervention for many coaches in organizations—so-called leadership coaches—as well as sports.

Gabriele Oettingen and Heather Barry Kappes, “researchers at New York University’s Motivation Lab takes a stab at why: Imagining these successful outcomes saps our energy from doing the hard work it takes to get there.”

So maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! It’s true. We can’t just visualize ourselves to competency and excellence. We can’t just meditate our way toward evolutionary competence. The Bodhisattvas have it right. Practice, practice, practice—in the world, not just inside!

McGregor concludes:

“At the very least, it’s a useful reminder that a healthy dose of skepticism and a realistic look at the odds you’re up against can do a lot more to help energize people toward a goal than a rosy image of a successful outcome. As the researchers write, less-positive fantasies — “those that question whether an ideal future can be achieved, and that depict obstacles, problems and setbacks—should be more beneficial for mustering the energy needed to attain actual success. Even if success is just measured by looking good in high heels.”

Ouch! Did she actually write that?

Anne Nigten, ed. Real Products for Real People, Volume 1. Rotterdam: The Patching Zone, 2010.

A book of transdisciplinary projects! How rare! It is the first I have come across since publishing our own work, Transversity: Transdisciplinary Approaches in Higher Education ( Sue L. T. MacGregor and Russ Volckmann, 2011).

The editor’s discussion of transdisciplinary approaches to projects is well grounded. She states,

“The transdisciplinary model is different from a multidisciplinary model as it moves beyond the mixing of fields and leads to a new hybrid between the disciplines. This conceptual space between the disciplines is a new field or are new fields, where methods are mixed or given new input that is beneficial to all disciplines involved” (11).

In practice and application, “the project teams work together with the stakeholders while living in that specific community.” (12) This results in bridging differences and a bottom-up approach to development and change. In the process there is a welcoming of first person subjective points of view in a process that transcends the third person more “objective” perspective often brought to the process through the disciplines, particularly the technical disciplines.

Russ Volckmann

It is beyond the scope of this brief treatment to go into detail about their approach. It is well worth the read to see how technology, media, project participants stakeholders and contexts are brought together in a learning and developmental process that is transdisciplinary. I highly recommend a close look at this rich volume of research and experience.