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The entire book was relatable. You can only build a bridge when you know who you are- identity is key. This was one of the required readings for my doctoral program but would have loved to read it for fun- which I will still do. I read the electronic copy, but I will recommend a hard copy because of the too many important stories and good quotes that one will need to go back to. Useful for all walks of life- home, family, church, work. Just great!
While this is the third book written by Quinn in a trilogy on the process of helping individuals and organizations to make deep change, I happened to read this one first. I then eagerly read his other two books. It is human nature to find a comfort zone and then try our hardest to stay in that zone. We feel safe, secure, and in control in our comfort zone. Sometimes, however, we try so hard to stay in the zone that we exert more energy than it would take to change. So why not change? Change is difficult and necessitates giving up power. Prior to reading the book I felt it was almost admitting failure. Change can be especially difficult when we are acting in the role of leader, and trying to move a large group of individuals toward the fulfillment of a goal or vision. How, then, do we lead and manage change? How do we transform an organization? Leadership is a state of being, which Quinn calls the "fundamental state of leadership". This is a state in which we are open to personal change, and consequently draw others to us by our change in behavior. In the book Quinn gives a detailed explanation of this new model of leaderhip and thoroughly examines the personal nature of change. He gives examples ordinary people who have led extraordinary change efforts. These stories motivate, they bring heroic efforts within reach of the ordinary individual. Executive, middle manager, associate, student, father or mother - all will benefit from this book.
Reading this book caused my understanding, interest and excitement about self-management and self-motivation, and about leading and motivating others, to expand enormously - perhaps even to explode in a positive manner. After discovering the table of "Eight Polarities and Eight Creative States," I have referred to it repeatedly. All of us know that motivation of one's self or others may be ethereal and certainly is metastable. Dr. Quinn has carefully chosen the most pertinent terminology and thoroughly explained why and how we can move toward balance between the extremes of the Eight Polarities and thereby lengthen our stay within "the fundamental state of leadership." The examples shared are contagious - as is the fundamental state of leadership. Dr. Quinn explains, "Teaching...the concept [is] not the key. The key [is] to challenge [others] and support them in choosing to enter the fundamental state of leadership" following one's own inherently contagious example. Excitement mushrooms from the possibility and understanding of how to choose to live in the fundamental state of leadership and consequentially to pervade positive, effective leadership influence.
This book captures the essence of transformational leadership in a way that few do. I have studied leadership, trained and mentored leaders, and applied the principles and practices in my own life as a co-founder of a successful life sciences company. Quinn has synthesized his many years of experience in the classroom and in the board room, not to mention in his family life, and delivered a powerful set of ideas, models, and activities for anyone who wants to reflect on their own leadership and be involved in developing the leadership of others. I particularly appreciate his comparision of the "Normal State of Leadership" and the "Fundamental State of Leadership" (which I call best self leadership). In some ways what he writes is not "new" but the clarity with which he presents it makes it so easy to recognize and as a result to organize my own thinking. His eight practices that lead to and/or are expressions of the Fundamental State (Reflective action, Authentic engagement, Appreciative inquiry, Grounded vision, Adaptive confidence, Detached interdependence, Responsible freedom, Tough love) are snapshots into much deeper areas of leadership with many ways to understand and express one's best self as a leader. All in all, I highly recommend this book. It is especially useful for experienced leaders reflecting on and wanting to further their leadership practices and for those young leaders looking for a roadmap to their own development as leaders.
Base on my understanding of the American society, I am not surprised that this book, like Quinn's previous book "Deep Change," doesn't get as many reviews as it deserves, but I am confident that this book, and Qinn's trilogy, will become classic down the line.
This book would seem esoteric for the society that is addicted to data and techniques, thinking that what we need is more information and skills in order to lead. It does require the reader to be more mature to understand the content at a deeper level. In my case, my understanding of Systems Theory helps a great deal. In fact, this book fills the gap that is missing in the systemic leadership books that I have read.
Edwin H. Friedman's A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix is one of the books that I like best on leadership and systems theory. However, even though it describes the sickness of the societies, organizations, families, etc. extremely well, it lacks the recommendation for the leader to develop the systemic quality to transform the society, organization, or family he or she is leading. Quinn's books fill the gap right on the spot.
As a Chinese living in America for 16 years, my concern is seeing the rampant reductionism in this society that seems to be leading America to gradually becoming like a third world nation that I escaped from. Books like this, though few, give me hope. America has a bright future if more leaders can chew this book, and its two siblings.
Wonderful paintings to organic leadership that few have the williness to do. Its Internal approach requires wild self awareness, deep humility, willingness to give up ones past ideas and successes in order to keep up to speed with the energetic vibration of a larger perspective. Yielding to seeing anew what is before now me . Openness to retuning my instrument each time is basic to the process. Having grown up in a rather strenuously focused internal personal development experience that was/is sated with joy and bliss, it is obvious that the "fundamental state of leadership " is likely drawn from Asian approaches to life, governing, leading and developing. I have not read the whole book, I've lived the title for 46 years. But I recommend the core of the approach and the inspiration of the author and the real stories within the book. Consider Daoist teachings as well, like "The book of leadership and strategy" and more. See "Taoist Classics Vol 1" by Thomas Cleary
Robert Quinn has done an excellent job in using the practical experiences of individuals to teach the importance of:experiencing change, creating change, and leading change. It is crucial for all who are in positions of leadership to bring about balance in their own spiritual and physical activities in order to foster a work environment that is healthy, productive and authentic. The reality of action,contemplation,reflection and change strengthens the 'inner being,' and produces dynamic leadership. The 'epiphany' experienced by selected characters such as Merton, Yamamoto, Silverberg,Parker,and others can be regarded as a part of our common experience; but must be viewed as the trajectory into the uncommon realizatin that we are invariably 'more than we think we are.' With the new awakening we not only transform our own lives, but the lives of others.
This book is one of the most amazing books that I have read on transformational leadership. I could not stop reading once I started. Quinn teaches a lot about how to deal with volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments that leaders enter. Quinn does make frequent references from his previously written book Deep Change, which I did purchase as well. I highly recommend you read Deep Change as well.
Bob Quinn explores what it takes to be in the "Fundamental State of Leadership", stressing it is more about who a leader is than what a leader does to be effective. Eight practices are introduced which illustrate the creative tensions that exist in the leadership role. This book makes you think. Where each leader will come out on each of the 8 dimensions will depend on your own style and strengths, but the book serves as a great discussion/think stimulator to aid in the growth of your leadership ability.