How Remarkable Women Lead: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: February 19th, 2012 by bobmorris

How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life
Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston with Geoffrey Lewis
Crown Business (2009)

As I read this book co-authored by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston, with substantial assistance provided by Geoffrey Lewis, I realized that remarkable men lead others in much the same way that, as Barsh and Cranston explain, remarkable women do: by leveraging their talent, desire to lead, and tolerance for change within all areas of their lives. Barsh and Cranston characterize this as “Centered Leadership” within five separate but interdependent dimensions: Meaning, Framing, Connecting, Engaging, and Energizing. They devote a separate chapter to each of the five. What they call “the journey to the center” is one of the most important themes in their narrative, strikingly similar to what Bill George and Peter Sims describe in True North: a three-phase “journey to authentic leadership” which begins with character formation and culminates (not concludes) with full development of authentic leadership within five separate but related dimensions: pursuing purpose with passion, practicing purpose with passion, practicing solid values, leading with heart, establishing connected relationships, and demonstrating self-discipline. Hundreds (thousands?) of self-help books on leadership also invoke the “journey” metaphor while suggesting all manner of “phases,” “stages,” “dimensions,” etc. What sets these two books (i.e. How Remarkable Women Lead and True North) apart is the authenticity of what their respective interviewees share so candidly and so generously.

According to George and Sims, True North is “the internal compass that guides you as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track as a leader. Your True North is based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, the sources of satisfaction in your life. Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership.” George and Sims could well be describing Centered Leadership.

I presume to add that what Barsh and Cranston share can also be of substantial value to the personal fulfillment as well as the professional development of men would aspire to become remarkable leaders. There is much they can learn from the women who are so extensively quoted as they explain how they helped to inspire others, how they gained clarity of both vision and purpose when coping with difficult, sometimes unpleasant realities, how they initiated and then nourished mutually beneficial relationships with others, how they took ownership for opportunities as well as risks with personal accountability, and how they assumed and fulfilled their responsibilities to their families and to their communities. Neither women nor men in leadership positions can “balance” everything in their careers and personal lives (no one can) but it is possible to recognize what is most important at any given time and then “balance” the allocation of one’s time and energy accordingly.

For some readers, let the journey to the center begin. For others, let that journey proceed more smoothly and expeditiously. Either way, bon voyage!

 

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