Scaling Leadership: A book review by Bob Morris

Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most
Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams
John Wiley & Sons (January 2019)

How to develop high-creative leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise

Richard Branson once suggested that an entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds an airplane on the way down. Apparently Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams “wrote this book right through the middle of meeting the limits to scale in [their] own leadership.” They hope this book will challenge each reader to evolve their own leadership. More specifically, that the material provided will help them to increase the multiple on their leadership “and scale it by becoming the kind of leader who is more and more capable of leading growth and continuing to lead effectively with their complexity that comes with growth, especially rapid growth. In short, we scale the organization by scaling leadership — by being the kind of leader that develops other leaders.” In this book, Anderson and Adams explain HOW.

Invoking horticultural terms, I think effective leaders have a “green thumb” for “growing” other people, many of whom become effective leaders who, in turn, develop their own green thumb. This process is difficult — if not impossible — if the “soil” in the “garden” (i.e. workplace culture) is hostile to personal growth and professional development. This is my own figurative description of what scaling of human talent — at its best — can accomplish for any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

These are the passages of greatest interest and value to bme also listed to suggest the scope of Anderson and Adams’ coverage:

o Spiritual Book Camp for Leaders (Pages 1-13)
o Six Conditions Required for Scale (26-33)
o How Senior Leaders Describe Other Senior Leaders (34-40)
o Top 10 Skills for High-Creative Leaders (47-49)
o Top 10 Strengths of High-Reactive Leaders (61-62)

o Top 10 Liabilities of High-Reactive Leaders (77-78)
o The Cancelling Effect (92-96)
o Scaling Leadership Beyond Yourself (109-116)
o Assess Individual and Collective Effectiveness (121-126)
o Heart-Centered Leaders (152-158)

o Head-Centered Leaders (162-167)
o Shift from Reactive to Creative in Three Movements (173-181)
o Developing Conscious Leadership (186-187)
o Lead the Change (209-212)
o The future of Leadership for a World at Stake(214-221)

In The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin  introduces his concept of what he characterizes as “integrative thinking.” That is, “the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas” in mind and then “without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other,” be able to “produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea.” Throughout his presidency, Abraham Lincoln frequently demonstrated integrative thinking, a “discipline of consideration and synthesis [that] is the hallmark of exceptional businesses [as well as of democratic communities] and those who lead them.”

This seems to be precisely what Robert Anderson and William Adams have in mind when explaining why they believe that “the future of leadership is Integral leadership informed by grace and leading from presumption of our inherent unity…By investing in your organization’s Development Agenda, you are contributing to developing the mature and skillful leadership required by our future.”

This book is a “must read” for all leaders as well as those who aspire to become leaders. Here’s the challenge: Scaling your own personal growth and professional development, meanwhile, helping others to scale theirs also. Long ago, John Quincy Adams nailed it, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Organizational capability wholly depends on the capabilities if those involved. They determine the results, for better or worse.

 

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