Pivot Points: A book review by Bob Morris

Pivot PointsPivot Points: Five Decisions Every Successful Leader Must Make
Julia Tang Peters
John Wiley & Sons (2014)

Valuable lessons to be learned from five male leaders

Julia Tang Peters focuses on five male leaders, devoting a separate chapter to each, who offer real-world perspectives on how the decision-making process is essential to achieving and then sustaining success in a global marketplace in which change happens faster and in greater number than at any prior time that I can remember.

Her key points include these:

o Her exemplary leaders hold themselves accountable for making decisions.
o They then hold themselves for the consequences of those decisions.
o There was usually a “moment of truth” while making especially difficult decisions.
o Those decisions are guided and informed by an “impassioned inner voice.”
o They understand and appreciate the power of one person but also the power of collaboration.
o Work is for them a source of renewable energy (e.g. getting charged up about opportunities).

As Peters explains, “Real leaders don’t have much use for job descriptions. The pivotal decisions they make shape their jobs and take them where one hasn’t gone before and new lessons await. These decisions define what they want people to look to them for and not look to them for in their leadership. They choose the opportunities, threats, and headaches that they will take on as individuals and as leaders of people on a shared journey. Without making these clear decisions that set the leadership agenda, executives do the work of managing and not the work of leading.”

She employs a template for her profile of each exemplar, explaining what her reader should know about him and his work, what really matters to that leader, the pivotal decisions he has made, and his legacy. What they share with her during the interviews and what she them shares in the book consists of information, insights, and counsel that every reader — female as well as male — would be well-advised to consider.

Peters devotes her final three chapters, respectively, to “Lessons from the Five Leaders,” “Lessons from Survey Findings,” and “Your Pivotal Five: A New Career Road Map.” The material in the last chapter will help her reader to connect the proverbial “dots” (i.e. pivotal decisions thus far) and thereby to determine what the process of decision-making, thus far, indicates in terms of both strengths and weaknesses. However, obviously, it remains for each reader to deter mine the nature and extent of what is most relevant to their own needs, interests, circumstances, and career objectives.

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