Leadership and The Art of Struggle is all about the leader’s struggle and even failure … and how we must experience and learn from our most challenging moments to grow toward effective leadership.
ME: You mean I don’t have to be a perfect leader …? That’s a relief.
Works for me, especially the idea that a leader cannot avoid and should not ignore their struggles and failures … those times when things are not going well, when our actions do not produce the results we want … when we totally screw up and cannot hide the results.
Steven Snyder knows leadership at a very lofty level, with experience in Microsoft and at his own company, combined with a thoughtful eye for the nuances of an individual’s leadership journey. His long-term research into the leadership journey has provided a solid basis for his approach.
Snyder takes aim directly at the myth of failure and struggle as negative aspects of the leadership experience. He identifies what he calls “leadership struggle” as a core component of leadership development.
He also discusses the nature of a leader’s struggle:
“ …three fundamental conditions that determine the nature of the struggle and serve as its defining elements: change, tensions, and being out of balance.”
I found many things to like about this book …In no particular order, here are some:
INCLUSIVE APPROACH …
Snyder draws on mindfulness and emotional intelligence research, as well as some of the current knowledge about neuroscience. The book contains references to a large array of knowledge from various disciplines.
While Snyder has much to offer in terms of valid research which supports his ideas, he also consistently conveys the importance of paying attention to the metaphysical aspects of our leadership and our humanity. This is a very human approach to leadership.
INTERWOVEN PERSPECTIVES …
Snyder connects Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow concepts. which he calls automatic and reflective thinking, with earlier leadership narrative work by Joe Badaracco of the Harvard Business School. In the process, he creates a model for understanding and learning from our challenges.
He knows how to weave concepts together in a most engaging fashion.
RELATIONAL NARRATIVES …
Snyder’s book is “chock full” of leadership stories from some very accomplished folks with names like Gates and Jobs, along with some others maybe not as well known, but leaders at the loftier levels.
Snyder does a nice job of relating the stories of individual leaders to the models he uses, especially in showing us how one or more of six “scripts” are consistently reflected in a leader’s history.
“The more self-aware you are, the more capable you will be a adaptively channeling your behavior.”
THE REST OF THE STORY …
I have not yet really discussed other aspects of Snyder’s model, which include those six “scripts” or ways in which we tend to approach and live our leadership lives, and the idea of “adaptive energy “ …
“Adaptive energy is the force that propels you to reach your dreams … aligns your actions both with the external criteria necessary for success and with your inner values and principles.”
I also want to say more about a chart on page 47, which clearly and succinctly details the difference between fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. Tersely put, a leader either sees their abilities and characteristics as fixed and relatively unchangeable or as plastic, elastic, and respondent to learning.
I have experienced these concepts in myself and others throughout my working career. Based on my own experiences and reinforced by Snyder’s book, one of these mind-sets is much more effective than the other.
… But these ideas are for another post on another day of this exciting week.
Enjoying yet another very useful and enjoyable leadership book in the Heartland ….
Disclaimer: As is often the case, I received a copy of Leadership and the Art of Struggle for review prior to its launch during the week of March 11, 2013. I am free to like or dislike the book. I happen to really like this high quality publication. As is often the case, I plan to purchase several copies to share with some folks who need to hear Steven Snyder’s message.
Steven Snyder, Ph.D., is the founder of the Snyder Leadership Group, an organizational consulting firm. An innovator in thought leadership, Snyder has developed the breakthrough concepts introduced in Leadership and the Art of Struggle, based on years of leadership studies, intensive research, and data derived from extensive interviews with real-world executives from major corporations. He currently lives with his family in the Minneapolis area, where he remains actively engaged in philanthropy and community service.