In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It, by author Thomas A. Kolditz, is the kind of book, and contains the kind of concepts, that every serious leader should read. It does an excellent job of detailing the personal growth and commitment to the truth that is necessary for a leader to be truly exceptional. Far too many books on management and leadership are over illustrated, resubmitted, and over embellished for hundreds of pages when the same message could have been conveyed in less than fifty pages. Kolditz's primary point is that a leader applies every part of themselves to their tasks and therefore must be a hero in their day-to-day work and that they must be willing to lead like a soldier. Kolditz, through anecdotes and a wide array of examples, reveals that leaders show courage and authenticity in their every action, resolve disputes and conflict with both awareness of all sides and clear thinking that they communicate well and that are process-oriented. These skills are crucial because a true leader needs to be gifted at creating understanding, able to get people to follow in emergencies and highly skilled at resolving challenging conflicts quickly and fairly. Leading effectively and solving problems are skills that come over time from being able to communicate a strong message.
[...] Too many theories of management dwell on examples of good decisions that leaders have made when it would be more beneficial if they focused on how a person can grow to become a stronger leader. This is because business success can sometimes come from a good decision, but the most consistent successes, over time, come from leaders that are authentic and have the conviction of a belief structure that propels them forward. A simplified version of this concept is that, "Success is an action." This is to say that a truly exceptional leader is someone who can point the team in a direction and then they will go, not because they want a raise or a promotion but because the believe in the leader and the principles that the leader represents. [...]
[...] Such an approach is inherently transactional because the primary motivation is known to be profit based, and as a result it doesn't work very well" (p. 25). But developing a vision is usually seen as an activity that requires quick and clear thinking. Kotter (1990) says that leaders should not toil to impose vision and instead they should devise a vision that takes into account the long-term goals, interests and needs of the followers and, thereby, the whole organization. That is completely in synch with Kolditz's view that leaders should share the moral principles of the team that they are privileged to serve. [...]
[...] Throughout his book, Kolditz makes the point that, in the same way that successful leaders sometimes have to cause conflict to bring about positive change, leaders should not be followed because of their position and the power that comes with their title but because they are leading as if lives were in the balance. For example, a soldier is willing to take a bullet for an authentic leader because they trust the leader to make the right decision in everyone's best interest. [...]
[...] This is important because "when it comes to putting your life in the hands of a leader" (p. it has nothing to do with going up a pay grade. Kolditz conveys his message by analyzing how great leaders shine in do-or- die situations. Many catastrophes, like the Oklahoma City bombing or September 11th, are situations that force great leadership or come to failure. Kolditz realizes that caring about the men or women involved in a task is as important as being able to take command in a crisis. [...]
[...] Kotter (1995) identifies eight steps to transforming an organization and focuses on how it must behave strategically it and promote a culture in which employees embrace successful change as the path to success. Underpinning this concept is a learning organization which is measured for continuous improvement. While CEOs must communicate these responsibilities, it is also the job of a leader to communicate and perform, not just to simply manage. Tensions are mitigated when information is available to all for making decisions and when, goals and values are common across the organization. [...]
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