Mastering Leadership – A Roadmap for Personal Transformation

by Jennifer Miller on December 1, 2015

in Book Review, Leadership

mastering leadership navigating complexityFew would argue that “leadership effectiveness” is one of the most important elements of business success. Yet, how many leaders in their organizations make their own leadership development a top priority? Even fewer set out to make a monumental personal transformation along the way.

Yet that just what’s needed in today’s complex work world: leaders willing to look inside themselves to initiate a personal transformation. This deep work on one’s “inner game” will create leaders who can navigate the complexity and volatility of the business environment—and do so with compassion, courage and character.

An ambitious new management book aims to help those willing to partake in self-reflection towards personal mastery. Drawing on seminal works in psychology, human development,  management theory and more, Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results creates a roadmap for the ambitious journey of personal development.

Mastering Leadership book coverAuthors Bob Anderson and Bill Adams write that Mastering Leadership is “two books in one.” The first half is written for executives and lays out the business case for the intense personal reflection the authors describe in the second half of the book. In Part One, Anderson and Adams define their “Universal Model of Leadership” which is the frame for the remainder of the book. Part Two of the book explores the varying theories that comprise their leadership model. There is also detailed explanation of what they call their “Leadership System”, which includes “The Leadership Circle” 360-degree assessment.

It’s a very comprehensive model and one that’s best left to those very familiar with it to describe. Thankfully, Anderson and Adams’ team have put together an excellent video overview. You can watch it here.

At over 300 pages, Mastering Leadership is not a quick read. And that’s OK with Bob Anderson. When I interviewed Anderson in advance of the book’s publication, he told me that he and Adams want their book to “advance the field and shift the way we approach developing [leaders]” in much the same way that Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline did in the 1990’s. Speaking of Senge’s work, you will find him and many other thought leaders such as Peter Block, Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey credited within the pages. Anderson and Adams say much of their leadership model was inspired by these thought leaders. What’s different about Mastering Leadership is that the framework takes the best theories in leadership, organizational development, and psychology and integrates them all into one model for leadership development.

Who should read this book? The authors say that the book is for “CEOs and senior leaders who know that leadership effectiveness drive organizational performance and there must be a better and faster way to develop effective leaders.” I would add that these leaders must also be willing to take a long, hard look at themselves, because this is where Anderson’s and Adams’ model starts. “At its core,” Anderson told me, “this book is an invitation to take [one’s] inner game more seriously.” There are no quick fixes here; executives seeking to use the concepts in this book must be ready to examine their own beliefs the ways in which they contribute to the dysfunction of their team.

This book will also be extremely helpful for practitioners and coaches in the organizational development field. Again, a caveat: for the concepts in this book to be truly effective, managers in the senior-most levels of the organization must be willing to participate. Otherwise, it will be a mostly academic exercise for the reader.

This is a well-written book with the power to change lives. And I’m not speaking hyperbolically. Here’s my proof source: in 2003, before Bob Anderson met Bill Adams, Bob created the basis for this leadership development model. It was called the “The Leadership Circle.” At that time, I used The Leadership Circle in a leadership development program for a nationally known insurance agency. Participants who used the coaching and the 360-degree assessment routinely called the experience “life changing.” It’s been over a decade since I’ve had the privilege of working with Bob Anderson and it’s a pleasure to see that his incredible work has been pulled together in a book that can be shared with so many more people.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book for review purposes. Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, I receive a small commission. I only review materials that I think will be useful to my readers. Of course, you should draw your own conclusions and decide for yourself what is valuable.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sara May 10, 2016 at 12:38 am

The provided information really was helpful that I decide to buy the book.

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