Review of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

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8 Overall

8 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


Most leadership training, coaching and self-help books promote a fallacy: To change and improve as a person and a leader, you must study your innermost self. Leadership professor Herminia Ibarra strongly disagrees. In this thoughtful, well-researched motivational text, Ibarra urges you to stop thinking about yourself and to take action instead. She presents research to support the idea that self-examination leads to paralysis. The more you look inward, the less likely you are to change. Change springs from action. Change from the inside out is an illusion, she says; instead, strive to change from the outside in. Unlike introspection, moving ahead inspires new thinking and learning for organizations and people. And, the more you act, the more your self-knowledge grows. Ibarra’s academic style may be why she introduces each new term by saying, “I call this…” The constant repetition of that phrase might wear you down. She also repeats her ideas, but most of them are compelling, at least the first or second time. getAbstract recommends this inspiring text to both aspiring and practicing business leaders.

About the Author

Herminia Ibarra is the Charles Handy Visiting Professor of Organizational Behavior at the London Business School and the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning at INSEAD. She also wrote Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career.


Ibarra offers the following lessons and highlights:

1. “Redefine your job.”

Be aware that you might be acting very efficiently while doing the “wrong thing.” Many managers mine their narrow expertise so well that other people in the company come to resent them and the resources they require. The managers in jeopardy here are those who are very good at one skill but find – often to their chagrin and too late – that their company has changed and requires other kinds of expertise.

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