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HR Toolkit – Book Reviews

By June 23, 2015December 19th, 2016No Comments

extraordinary-leadershipsEXTRAORDINARY LEADERSHIP IN
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND

JAMES KOUZES, BARRY POSNER
WITH MICHAEL BUNTING
Wiley $30

 

 

 

 

from-me-to-weFROM ME TO WE

JANINE GARNER,
Wiley $29.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

The authors were canny enough to get the likes of Josh Baylis, CEO of Virgin Group to comment at the front of this book. Baylis calls it “a truly enjoyable and highly relevant read on leadership and engagement” and it’s hard to disagree. In his introduction, Michael Bunting, Founder of WorkSmart Australia, adopts a matey, across-the-table style as he dissects the challenges of leadership in a country that coined the expression “tall poppy syndrome” to express its fierce egalitarianism. The good thing about Antipodean culture is that respect isn’t automatic, leaders must actually lead and serve to earn their authority says Bunting.

The first myth to be punctured by Kouzes and Posner is that leaders are born into the role. Great leaders are great learners, not afraid to make mistakes. Trawling through global research, they have distilled into five chapters the practices they believe characterise exemplary leadership. They draw on engaging, real-life examples to illustrate best practice. So in the chapter on Challenging the Process, for example, we meet Wendy Lenton, head of people and performance at George Weston Foods, who took her underperforming team to the Australian Institute of Sport to find inspiration in the relationship between athletes and coaches.

This book reminds us says another advocate, Luke Sayers, CEO at PwC “that leaders need to bring out the best of themselves to bring out the best in others”.

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” Not Janine Garner’s words but the wisdom of Henry Ford which opens the book. The idea of joining forces, collaborating, sharing knowledge, insights and intellect for mutual benefit was something the American industrialist believed in wholeheartedly. So why, then, asks Garner, has commercial collaboration not become a business norm?

This book attempts to answer that question and offer strategies for embedding a mindset of collaboration in individuals and businesses. The starting point is with oneself, the “Me” and while everyone has different attributes and characteristics, Garner says that “we have a choice as to the version of ourselves we want to be”.

The word “fear” is found in more business manuals that horror novels these days. Garner proclaims fear as a big inhibitor to realising potential. Case studies illustrate successful collaboration models that will be useful mainly for small businesses. She’s lighter on examples of large organisations where the greatest problems often lie with silos protecting their patch.

Garner is convincing when it comes to strategy however. “It requires moving out of closed-door boardrooms and corner offices, lowering personal barriers that prevent transparency,” she says. “When these things happen, is when we enter the We economy.”

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