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Leading From the Shadows

Profile Books,

15 minutes de lecture
10 points à retenir
Audio et texte


The best deputies were once leaders, and the best leaders were once deputies.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


This fast-paced read delivers engaging, often humorous entertainment through a veil of thick vernacular. The subject is more original than that of most leadership books, and so is the tone of voice. Richard Hytner explains that leaders and their second-in-command deputies must connect with each other for the good of their organizations. He shares examples of big bosses who benefit or suffer at the hands of their subordinate, but equally intelligent, advisers. His advice might aid you in thinking about the kind of leader you want to be, and in deciding whom to hire as your deputy or whom to choose as your boss. Hytner uses frequent, obscure sports examples that assume prior knowledge of people and events. That may make his good-humored presentation slow going for some and irritating for others. He presents ideas and cautions with a sense of distraction that is good for a laugh but still offers solid career fodder. getAbstract recommends his series of tales to anyone looking for a second-in-command or to any deputy seeking a good leader to support.


Leading From the Back

Real leadership exists at all levels of an organization, particularly among the unsung number twos – the “C” leaders. The C’s are the “Consiglieri,” assistants, deputies, advisers and even division heads whose main role is to support the “A” leader – the CEO, president or head coach. Being second-in-command carries responsibilities and leadership requirements, but the second position shields C’s from ultimate accountability. They “lead from the shadows.”

Many advantages accrue to those in the penultimate position. Determine if you’re better suited to be A or C at any point in your career. The best way to know is to experience both. The best A’s have experience as C’s and vice versa. An A without C experience might not appreciate the need for strong deputies, and could be incapable of choosing and inspiring a C. Likewise, a Consigliere without experience as a boss cannot advise when the crucible of leadership heats up. Lead from both vantage points as early in your career as possible. That doesn’t mean you have to become a CEO at age 25. Pick up A experience by leading a team or a tough project.

Whether you aspire to be an A or a C, gain ...

About the Author

Richard Hytner, deputy chairman at Saatchi & Saatchi, teaches at the London Business School.

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