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  • Mobilizing people to confront tough, intractable problems, overcome differences, and move beyond the natural resistance to change requires uncommon courage and skill.

  • Leadership – mobilizing people to effect change – demands entering unknown territory.  It, of necessity, requires experimentation and improvisation, and the will to risk dead ends and missteps.

  • Leadership is an activity, not a position.  Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.

  • Leadership occurs not when those in authority offer answers, but when essential questions are kept on – and key people kept at – the table long enough for shared answers to emerge.

  • Leadership for a change is difficult, risky, and rare.   Change involves discomfort and loss.

  • Leadership, thus, requires taking these into account.

  • Set goals that are "SMAART": Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Aggressive, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

  • Your purpose must be clear.


Take stock of your team:

  • Are visions and goals clearly articulated, aligned, and alive?

  • ​Is there a sense of shared accountability and responsibility?

  • ​Are whispered criticisms and “water cooler” talk brought into the open and discussed?

  • ​Is smart risk-taking rewarded?

  • ​Are diversity and voices of dissent honored?

  • ​Is individual growth (personal and professional) nurtured?

  • Arbinger Institute, Leadership and Self-Deception:  Getting Out of the Box, Berrett-Koehler, 2010

  • Frank Barrett, Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz, Harvard Business Review Press, 2012

  • Ronald A. Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers, Harvard University Press, 1994

  • Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Harvard Business Press, 2009

  • Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky, “Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 2009

  • Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, Leadership on the Line, Harvard Business School Press, 2002

  • Ronald Heifetz and Donald L. Laurie, “The Work of Leadership,” Harvard Business Review, December 2001

  • Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, Immunity to Change, Harvard Business Press, 2009

  • Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, “The Real Reason People Won’t Change,” Harvard Business Review, November 2001

  • Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, Harvard Business Review, 2016

  • Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, 2016

  • Ed O’Malley and Amanda Cebula, Your Leadership Edge, Kansas Leadership Center Press, 2015

  • Otto Scharmer, Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges, 2016

  • Kenwyn Smith and David Berg, Paradoxes of Group Life: Understanding Conflict, Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics, Jossey-Bass, 1997.


“That people can be lifted into their better selves is the secret

of transforming leadership and the moral and practical theme of this work.”

- James MacGregor Burns

“A community is too heavy to carry alone.”​

- Midrash

“Mobilizing people to confront tough problems, overcome differences, and move

beyond the natural resistance to change requires uncommon courage and skill.”​

- Jay Kaufman, Founding President, Beacon Leadership Collaborative

“Leadership is purpose with courage, even in the light of uncertainty.”

- Petra Falcon

"Leadership requires motivating people to

undertake the adaptive work they’d rather avoid.”

- Hugh O'Doherty

“Leadership entails dispensing loss

to your people at a rate they can absorb.”

- Marty Linsky

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists.

When his life is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say 'we did it ourselves.'”

- Lao Tsu

“Management is doing things right.

Leadership is doing the right things.”

- Peter Drucker

“Leadership demands surfing the edge of chaos​.”

- Richard Pascale

“The only thing that is permanent is change.”​

- Heraclitus

“I’m all for progress. It’s change I can’t stand.”

- Mark Twain

“The most important words ever written on the maps of

human knowledge are terra incognita — unknown territory.”​

- Daniel J. Boorstin

“A ship in harbor is safe.

But that is not what ships are for​.”

- John A. Shedd

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”​

- Albert Einstein

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”​

- Yogi Berra

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

- Mahatma Gandhi

“An effective leader simply loves the people,

tells the truth, and knows when to go away.”

- Evaristo Matsuaire

Leadership essentials
Elements of Leadership Culture
Suggested Readings
Leadership Quotations
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