Leadership on the Line
Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky’s “Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading” describes the risks that every leader experiences at one point or another. It explains how no matter what level of leadership you’re in, whether it be leading a small organization or a nation, each leader has internal and external conflicts that they must overcome in order to “stay alive” as a leader. Heifetz and Linsky go through the dangers of leadership by separating the book into three distinct parts. The authors discuss in the first part why leadership is dangerous and how people manage to cave in to the pressure involved with leading. In the second part of the book, there are ideas for reducing the risk of failure in a leadership position. Lastly there are examples of ways that leaders behave and act to bring their downfall. In each of the parts the authors present to us examples of how leaders overcome the dangers and risks and also how they fail to overcome those dangers and risks. The book focuses mostly on the behavioral approach/theory where leaders are not born but in fact experiences opportunities every day for leadership. It is the person’s actions that make them a leader and not actually their traits. As the book states, it is in our human nature to have certain “hungers” that will eventually bring forth our downfall, however it is our actions as a leader that allow us to overcome these “hungers” in order to stay alive through the dangers of leading. An example of this would be the hunger for power and control. In most cases being able to take control of a situation or crisis in the organization is a positive thing; however it is when the urge to control everything begins to get in the way of progress that it becomes a problem. An example from the book is when James Kerasiotes was managing the Big Dig public works project in Boston. Kerasiotes’ urge to control everything got to him and when the budget of the project...
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