Summary of A Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership

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A Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership book summary


9 Overall

10 Applicability

9 Innovation

9 Style


Leading a group of academics can be like trying to herd cats. Given that – since Steven B. Sample succeeded as president of a major university – you would expect that he acquired some expertise on leadership, if only as a matter of survival. Sample borrows from an array of classical thinkers, from Shakespeare to Machiavelli to Lincoln, to advance his proposition that the most important attribute for any leader is the ability to think independently. He says that leadership demands suspending judgment, listening passionately to those with conflicting opinions and seeing all the shades of gray that exist between black and white alternatives. If his somewhat academic perspective doesn’t always apply directly to the business world, it certainly supplies this book with intelligence and insight at every turn. getAbstract strongly recommends this guidebook to those who take these rare human attributes seriously.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What factors make a leader successful, starting with independent thinking;
  • How leaders communicate and handle hierarchies; and
  • Why you want to be a contrarian leader.

About the Author

In the early 1980s, when he was president of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Steve B. Sample helped engineer its rise into the top ranks of universities, according to the Association of American Universities. Now president of the University of Southern California, he co-teaches a course titled, ‘‘The Art and Adventure of Leadership.’’



Contrary to Popular Opinion
The contrarian leader thinks differently. While others see black and white, contrarians maintain intellectual independence and see many different shades between the extremes. Leaders who can conceptualize a range of ideas are more creative and intellectually...

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