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The Secret Language of Leadership

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The Secret Language of Leadership

How Leaders Inspire Action Through Narrative


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A passionate explanation of how good leadership is different from transformational leadership

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Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


This isn’t just another book about how to become a better manager; it’s about how to use language to become an “inspirational leader” who can bring about transformation and lasting change. Stephen Denning explains that transformational leadership is not the sole providence of an extraordinary few. Anyone with enough vision, commitment and grit to master a basic set of skills that he calls the “language of transformational leadership” can become a leader who creates change. Denning turns away from aloof reasoning and dusty information, and advocates being provocative and inspirational instead. His only lapse is a love of repetition. getAbstract believes that leaders who want to master persuasive advocacy will enjoy this in-depth guide.


10 Leadership Mistakes

Why did U.S. Vice President Al Gore fail to become president in 2000, even though he was able to inspire international passion six years later with his environmental advocacy and his movie, An Inconvenient Truth? During his campaign, Gore made 10 common leadership mistakes; if you come to understand them, you will know how to use the “Secret Language of Leadership”:

  1. “Unclear, uninspiring goals” – In his first presidential debate, Gore lost his audience to information overload when he outlined a program of change based on 11 goals.
  2. “Lack of total commitment to change” – Gore put the lid on his passions to appeal to a larger audience, and came across as uncommitted and unexciting.
  3. “Incongruent body language” – Gore might have won points in the verbal debate, but viewers interpreted his body language as aggressive, bullying, impatient and arrogant.
  4. “Misreading the audience” – In 2000, America enjoyed a robust economy. However, Gore spoke as if drugs, crime and big business were threatening his listeners...

About the Author

Stephen Denning is author of The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling and Squirrel Inc., former program director of Knowledge Management for the World Bank and senior fellow at the James MacGregor Burns Leadership Academy at the University of Maryland.

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    S. M. 5 years ago
    Loved this piece
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    J. O. 7 years ago
    Easier said than done
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    A. M. 7 years ago
    very good for start to the best