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Research tells us, the authors state, that 64% of persons who take new leadership positions from outside an organization do not succeed. That is a staggering figure in light of the fact that both the organization that hired the candidate and the new employee did so in the hope of success for both parties. Experience also shows us that disappointing results occur far too often for individuals promoted from within organizations.

What, then, do these lost opportunities tell us? They make the central case that more than talent is required to achieve leadership success. This book addresses that other critical dimension.

One of the interviewees sums up this other dimension when she states the critical importance to success of a leader’s “ability to read the political tea leaves” (p.18). This book shows the reader how to read those leaves and how to use what they reveal in their essence.

The authors identify five major areas of concern for the organizational leader. The first of these focuses on the gathering and use of information early in the process so that conditions and expectations that will enable the leader to succeed can be negotiated wisely at the outset of the engagement. The authors suggest how to obtain the crucial information, warn of potential traps that others have encountered along the way and then identify proven strategies and methods to turn the information to effective use to build a platform for success. It is solid stuff.

They then turn to four more critical areas, each centering on strategies to create an overall plan for negotiating the key conditions necessary to achieving leadership success. The areas that follow concern: positioning of the leader and the mission; identifying and acquiring necessary resources; achieving buy-in and blunting resistance from peers and reports; and, lastly, not only achieving results, but assuring that they are recognized as important organizational achievements.

In each area, traps and strategies and clearly described implementation methods are always central. The result is an extraordinary handbook for success.

The authors provide chapter and book summaries that should be useful to readers, an extensive bibliography for further reading on the topics and a careful index.

My highest recommendation. This book is a “must read.”

John Baker, Ph.D.

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October 2004