Summary of Head, Heart & Guts

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Head, Heart & Guts book summary
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  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Overview


In this presentation of the potentially exciting topic of executive leadership, authors David L. Dotlich, Peter C. Cairo and Stephen H. Rhinesmith stress the nuances of theory, perhaps at the expense of showing additional, powerful human examples. Maybe that comes from the authors' perspectives as consultants who often must disassemble a topic to present it in their own way. While the book has a compelling basic theme – developing leaders who become effective by learning to be compassionate and brave, as well as savvy – that insight gets a bit mired in the presentation. The book offers worthwhile guidance, and supplies almost too many clipboard processes and checklists of symptoms, problems and techniques. getAbstract finds the book's concept contemporary and intriguing. While its procedural guidance may be helpful, its wisdom resides in its discussions of mature leadership.

About the Authors

David L. Dotlich heads a learning consultancy and was vice president of a major corporation. Peter C. Cairo, who leads the consultancy's leadership strategy program, chaired Counseling and Organizational Psychology at Columbia University. Consultancy partner Stephen H. Rhinesmith, served as special ambassador to the Soviet Union and led a cruise line. Dotlich and Cairo also wrote Action Coaching, Action Learning, Unnatural Leadership and Why CEOs Fail.



Leading with Wisdom, Compassion and Courage

Modern technology, demanding stakeholders and pressures to deliver financial results put executives on the hot seat. Leaders selected on the basis of a single characteristic – such as intellectual capacity – often fail to conquer these pressures or to satisfy all their constituencies. Very few leaders have a combination of "head, heart and guts" characteristics or, at least, when they are on the job they don't use all of them.

Instead, leaders usually operate within familiar, comfortable spheres of reference, such as analytics or rigid adherence to previous convictions. Leaders frequently fail to connect with the people who most need their guidance or compassion, and that compounds the problem. Unfortunately, companies often select leaders based on a single characteristic (such as analytical ability), so even successful candidates may lack skills in other key areas. Historically, business schools use a standard curriculum focused on management skills. Recruiters chose graduates with good cognitive abilities and high ranks in their classes, perpetuating one-dimensional leadership. Such leaders have partial characteristics, ...

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