Care to Dare: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: August 11th, 2012 by bobmorris

Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership
George Kohlrieser, Susan Goldsworthy, and Duncan Coombe
Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint (2012)

“Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise.”  — Howard Schultz

The last tine I checked, Amazon offers 85,860 books on leadership for sale and 26,147 of them focus on business leadership. Why another? I offer two reasons. First, people have their own thoughts and experiences to share and at least a few of them summon the energy and determination as well as the talent required to write a book about them. Also, I think each book should be judged on its own merits. An 11th-century French monk, Bernard of Chartres (not Isaac Newton) was the first to suggest, “We are like dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants.” The most prominent authorities on leadership during the last 50 years (such as Warren Bennis, Peter Drucker, Ron Heifetz, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and John Maxwell) once stood atop the shoulders of their own “giants.” And so do George Kohlrieser, Susan Goldsworthy, and Duncan Coombe in this book as they explain how aspiring leaders can unleash “astonishing potential through Secure Base Leadership.”

They identify nine characteristics that Secure Base Leaders demonstrate each day in their relationships with others. None is a head-snapper, nor do they make any such claim. However, all are essential to effective leadership and the co-authors devote a separate chapter to each. Early in the book, they define some basic terms. “For the purposes of leadership development, we define a secure base as: a person, place, goal or object that provides a sense of protection, safety and caring and offers a source of inspiration and energy for daring, exploration, risk taking and seeking challenge.” They define Secure Base Leadership as a means by which to provide these same benefits  to others. Only those who possess a Secure Base can provide the leadership that Kohlrieser, Goldsworthy, and Coombe endorse in this book.

That point is made by a business tycoon, Victor Delahaye, in Benjamin Black’s recently published Vengeance: A Novel, when he observes, “A man is not much if he can’t depend on himself, and nothing if others can’t depend on him.”

They make brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices in Chapters One through Nine such as “Key Learnings” sections that stress especially important points Also, FAQ sections that pose questions that readers are most likely to ask as well as “Ask Yourself” and (self-audit) diagnostic assessments that enable readers to correlate material about SBL behaviors in the book with her or his own circumstances (strengths, weaknesses, needs, interests, goals, concerns, etc.). The purpose of various “Your Next Steps” sections is self-evident. To the extent that a book permits, Kohlrieser, Goldsworthy, and Coombe are determined to interact with each reader. For that reason, they immediately establish and then sustain a direct, personal rapport. They also insert throughout their narrative dozens of examples of real people in real-world situations who struggle – sometimes with mixed results – to develop both their own SBL core competencies and those in others for whom they are primarily responsible. Long ago, I realized that all great leaders possess a “green thumb” for “growing” others to become great leaders, also. First things first, however: Aspirants should focus on their development of the SBL’s nine defining characteristics.

These are among the passages that caught my eye:

o  Stages of the Binding Cycle (60-66)
o  Nine Characteristics of Secure Base Leadership (Pages 33-41)
o  “The Mind’s Eye” (111-140)
o  The Four Leadership Approaches (Part II, Chapter Six)

•  “Playing to Win” (141-167)
•  “Playing Not to Lose” (147-148)
•  “Playing to Dominate” (149-151)
•  “Playing to Avoid” (151-153)

o  ” Six Leadership Styles at a Glance” (Table 6.1, 155)
o  “Secure Base Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Styles” (Table 6.2, 156)

Note: These two tables offer modification of Daniel Goleman’s work.

o  “Roots of Your Leadership” (181-192)
o  “How to Improve Capacity for Deep Dialogue” (217-225)
o  “The Learning Organization (233-234)
o  “Caring and Daring Objectives for Individuals” (241)
o  “Translating the Nine [SBL] Characteristics into Objectives” (243)
o  “Humanize How You Work” (263-266)

No brief commentary such as this can possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of information, insights, and counsel that George Kohlrieser, Susan Goldsworthy, and Duncan Coombe provide in this volume. However, I hope that I have at least indicated why I think highly of the material and how skillfully it is presented.


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