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Unnatural leadership – review


Title: Unnatural Leadership: Going against intuition and experience to develop ten new leadership instincts
Authors: David L. Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo
Publisher: Jossey Bass Wiley, 2002
Price: £19.50
ISBN: 0-7879-5618-X

Buy this book from the TrainingZONE - Blackwells bookshop.

An odd thing that struck me about this book is how it supports the idea that you don't have to be uniformly strong to succeed as a leader. Countless examples illustrate leaders who have achieved great results without addressing their weaknesses. I remember a story in 'Shooting the Monkey' by Colin Turner that extolled the virtue of paying more attention to your strengths.

Leadership will be a topic of interest to Sales Directors and Managers. How might this book help sales people? If you need to sell to leaders, then it might be advantageous to study them. If you can step into their shoes then you will be much better equipped to anticipate their needs.

Unnatural Leadership defines a leadership model in order to create an apparent new angle. As such, I found it a bit provocative. Many of the arguments dictate or make assumptions about traditional leadership characteristics. This caused me to write many comments of disagreement
in the margins. Despite my criticism, the book is an easy read. I seemed to scream through it with uncharacteristic ease. For me, the book defined many important tenets of leadership. For the most part, in my opinion, the leadership principles examined by Dotlich and Cairo are
natural ones rather than unnatural discoveries. You can judge for yourself. Here are the ten new leadership instincts.

1. Refuse to be a prisoner of experience
2. Expose your vulnerabilities
3. Acknowledge your shadow side (This refers to the things we do that grate against the values and virtues we covet.) 4. Develop a right v right decision-making mentality (This is about accepting the greyness in decision making, taking into account the wider picture, and avoiding analysis paralysis.)
5. Create teams that create discomfort (This is about choosing very different people for your team. You have to suffer more conflict but you get a greater range of options and solutions.)
6. Trust others before they earn it
7. Coach and teach rather than lead and inspire
8. Connect instead of create (This is about being willing to adopt ideas invented elsewhere. Copying what has been demonstrated to work elsewhere is much quicker than reinventing.)
9. Give up some control
10. Challenge conventional wisdom

Each chapter concludes with an exercise that helps you grasp the ideas in it. You will also discover new things about yourself and your situation from completing the exercises. These alone make 'Unnatural Leadership' a worthwhile investment. I enjoyed the book and got a lot
from it. If you read a book and get just one idea that helps you solve a problem, win a sale, or keep a good team member, it has to have been worthwhile.

Clive Miller
Telephone: +44 (0)118 933 1357 Email: Web:


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