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Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading
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Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  677 ratings  ·  79 reviews
To lead is to live dangerously. It's romantic and exciting to think of leadership as all inspiration, decisive action, and rich rewards, but leading requires taking risks that can jeopardize your career and your personal life. It requires putting yourself on the line, disturbing the status quo, and surfacing hidden conflict. And when people resist and push back, there's a ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Harvard Business Review Press
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(showing 1-30 of 1,349)
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Otis Chandler
One of the best books on leadership I've read. Many people struggle to articulate what leadership really is. This book put a more fine point on it, suggesting that leadership is creating change. The author likes the word "adaptive change". Once a solution to an issue has been accepted and is in motion, it becomes a management issue - a matter of execution - not a leadership issue. Creating change is not easy:

An adaptive change that is beneficial to the organization as a whole may clearly and tan
...more
Stephen
Feb 23, 2008 Stephen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone in leadership, church, business, politics
Recommended to Stephen by: Bob Burns and Donald Guthrie in our Pastor's Summit
Simply put, this is one of the top five or ten books I've ever read on leadership challenges and the concept of working through the dynamics of change in an organization.

The authors uniquely distinguish the two types of processes involved in leading, and what type of leadership, adaptive vs. technical is needed to navigate the waters of change.

The case studies are wide-ranging from government heads to small town, individual and personal contexts.
Derek Wolfgram
One of the best books on leadership I've ever read, focusing not only on how to achieve the goals of your position and/or organization, but how to keep yourself sane, balanced, and healthy through the difficult challenges any leader faces. The combination of personal advice and organizational techniques is extraordinarily valuable. Some key concepts I took from this book are:

-Getting on the balcony: learning how to momentarily disengage from a situation, particularly in times of stress or confli
...more
Malik Siraj Akbar
What I love about this book is that it does not make martyrdom a prerequisite for leadership. Instead, it teaches you how to be a successful leader without risking your life. There are so many books that insist that you have to go to any extent to achieve what you want, including sacrificing your life. This book teaches you how to lead successfully and still stay safe.
Liz
This is a great reference book for those leaders under fire from those who seem to make it their life's work to tear down anything that they don't control. Unfortunately, it may take legal action after all else fails but there is a lot of good advice in here. After reading it, I had to wonder who would want to put themselves in the line of fire as a leader especially if they are just volunteering.
Tai
Exellent read (this is coming from an individual who finds most leadership books a giant snore)! For anyone who is interested in the subject or has leadership responsibilities in an organization (with or without a lot of direct authority).

I loved it because it crystalized for me many of the situations I've experienced and had made a tactical move based on intuition without really understanding the core reason for why it worked (or sometimes didn't work).

It is also the only book that has framed
...more
Principal Klemburger
This book was practical and easy to read, with LOTS of examples of leadership from across many fields. The book is divided into three sections: "The Danger" of leadership and why leading is so challenging, "The Response" which outlines how to effectively lead, and "Body and Soul" which discusses the human impact of leadership and how to survive and thrive personally.

Some key ideas from the book:
- "get up on the balcony" to see a broader perspective of what's going on, keep moving back and forth
...more
John Floyd
This book perfectly articulates potential pitfalls that face leaders at all levels. I thoroughly enjoyed the case examples and the personal anecdotes the authors bring to the table. The lessons are very dense in some areas which force the reader to slow down and fully understand the subject (Stretching 250 pages into what feels like 600). I highly recommend reading this book and paying special attention to the final chapters.
Karen
Excellent book for any person in a position of leadership--mothers, CEOs, board members, etc.
Bethany
I needed this book right now. I needed this book five years ago. I almost don't even know where to start. Everything I have struggled with in my career is in this book. Everything I hate about office politics is in this book. AND it provides ways to cope, deal, and stay true to yourself. EXACTLY what I need. The end gets a little mushy and religious, but it covers the gamut of office politics and how to survive - and lead effectively. I need to remember the advice in it desperately as I start my ...more
Jeremy
This was a good book but the connection between the various topics covered wasn't incredibly clear to me. Part of the book talks about maintaining health as a leader, part of the book addresses leading change within the organization, and there are a couple of chapters that have independent foci that connect somewhat to one of the previously mentioned themes.

From my reading, I'd recommend Leaders Who Last, Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership, and Resilient Ministry for the health of a leade
...more
Patrick
I'm not quite sure where to place this book. At least three stars, but could be four.

I picked it up expecting a treatise on leadership. I'm not sure if I was expecting tips like the Jack Welch thank-you-notes or the Peter Drucker schedule management; or if I was expecting inspiration, vision, or philosophy, or what. What I got was completely unexpected.

The first part of the book provides practical tips for leading successful change in organizations. Not what I was expecting as leadership, but ex
...more
Chase McMunn
Leadership is a tricky business. Delegating responsibilities is a critical role of management, but according to Heifetz and Linsky leadership is actually about adaptive change. That is to say, change that forces organizations, communities, and individuals to make painful adjustments in order to survive or thrive. Because leadership contains these often contentious elements, those that lead are often targets from these that would seek to keep the status-quo. Leadership on the Line is a survival ...more
Gregory Peterson
Aug 23, 2010 Gregory Peterson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: leaders, and those who follow them
Great communication is always an exercise in leadership. And great leaders always seem to understand that great communication doesn’t just happen. It is this group, the leaders who know what they don’t know and are willing to invest in their communications asset that will find merit in this provocative book from Harvard Professors Heifetz and Linsky. (The book has been around for years, now, but its lessons are evergreen.) Here’s an excerpt:

“To lead is to live dangerously because when leadership
...more
Mike
Serious scholars of leadership will already be well-acquainted with the path-breaking work of Ron Heifetz. His "Leadership W/out Easy Answers" and other significant contributions to "The Harvard Business Review," for instance, have already established him as one of the foremost authorities in the field.

I believe that "Leadership W/out Easy Answers" is one of the top 5 works on leadership. I recommend it highly to any and all leaders, managers, and students with professional aspirations. "Leaders
...more
Heather
This was an interesting book on leadership. There were some great points that helped me think about the importance of being a leader, but I don't love everything about the authors' advice. I do love the beginning idea, "Every day the opportunity for leadership stands before you." There are chances to stand up and lead everywhere. A few of the important keys to successful leadership include:

- "get on the balcony" and look for the bigger picture, but don't miss the chance to take action as well
- "
...more
Anagha
Picked up this book with high expectations on learning to 'lead without authority'. Found it to be a laborious read as the authors cite many elaborate illustrations from America's political history to belabor their points. Some were insightful but on the whole, it felt like the book had too many pages and not enough thought provoking or insightful content.
Tim Kropp
Very honest book about leadership and it's dangers. I really like the approach and the honesty. It is a dangerous position to lead, and the larger the change, the larger the danger. Lots of good material that I keep coming back to in order to remind myself of where my risks are.
Neil White
A very quick read and a good discussion that centers primarily on the character of the leader and the actions of leading. The authors use a lot of examples from different times and experiences as they talk about the challenges of leadership, the actions of leadership and how to maintain oneself in the midst of the challenges of leadership.
Gregory
I generally don't put much stock in this sort of thing. Most business/management/self-help whatever you want to call it seems like a lot of hot air to me. However I actually got something out of this and I especially like that the finish. They acknowledge that their is more to live than business/politics/the stuff they have been focused on and wax a little religious.
Bob
This book is about surviving leadership--about adopting dynamic adaptive forms versus static technical fixes. It is heavily laced with caveats and lessons from the political world which were not always helpful to my own world. I especially liked the latter part of the book in its lessons about managing our hungers, being anchored, and challenging the pervasive myths of measurement.
Alok
This is THE BOOK of leadership. A must read for everybody and shall bring out the most practical and 'feel it as you read it kind of book'. At every moment while reading the book, it can be related to the day to day experience. It deep drives into every concept that is written with glaring example and rips apart the case with absolute clarity. Kudos to the authors. It is a game changer book and need to be read and reread in intervals.
J Guay
Outstanding...wish I had had it much earlier in my career. Makes my current employer's organizational behavior make much more sense. And provides very workable strategies for trying to survive doing the right thing...
Alex
I was assigned to read this book as a part of a leadership class. The concepts were easy to grasp because of the author's ingenious use of metaphors.
Bjorn Adalbjornsson
Good book on the mindset leadership requires. Will not age will though, all the post-9/11 references are already getting old and wont be relevant soon.
Rob Petersen
The best secular book on wading through the pressure points of leadership that I've read to date.
Scott Smith
Great book. Very helpful in where I am at in leadership at First UMC of Ormond
V Byrne
I read this book for an undergraduate Leadership Studies course I TA, however I believe I have taken more from this text than most leadership theory. Heifetz and Linsky prove useful theory, models, and advice with personal examples that make the ideas easy to frame in my own life.

Also, if anyone is looking to analyze the Occupy movement from the lens of leadership theory, this is a great place to start.

I do however, recommend reading the first two chapters of Heifetz's Leadership Without Easy An
...more
Gregory
Few books on leadership really get to the heart of challenges of leadership as meaningful as this one, particularly what derails great leaders. While practical with great aspirational storytelling, Leadership On the Line analyzes the "dark side" of leadership: betrayal, abandonment, rejection, loneliness, etc. and offers practical advice on staying alive. References to Christ were particularly inspiring, and the authors particularly focus on how one's hungers and vulnerabilities can be more expo ...more
Meg
Great book on leadership with many relatable and interesting stories to support the authors' leadership lessons.
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“Exercising leadership is an expression of your aliveness... But when you cover yourself up, you risk losing something as well. In the struggle to save yourself, you can give up too many of those qualities that are the essence of being alive, like innocence, curiosity, and compassion.” 4 likes
“You appear dangerous to people when you question their values, beliefs, or habits of a lifetime. You place yourself on the line when you tell people what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. Although you may see with clarity and passion a promising future of progress and gain, people will see with equal passion the losses you are asking them to sustain.” 2 likes
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