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The Nature of Leadership: Reptiles, Mammals, and the Challenge of Becoming a Great Leader

Book Description

A great leader is a truly unique animal, possessing both the warmth of a mammal and the cold-blooded toughness of a reptile

Enlightening, encouraging, and filled with incredible anecdotes from the author's own experience, The Nature of Leadership explores these characteristics, with examples of leaders ranging from tough-minded Lou Gerstner at IBM to mammalian leaders like Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America.

Key features

  • Contains anecdotes from the author's own experiences, including his participation in the landmark University of Michigan affirmative action Supreme Court case, as well as lessons he learned from meeting world-famous figures like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Bishop Desmond Tutu

  • Unique, approachable metaphor to describe different kinds of leadership styles. The author points to both successes and failures (his own as well as those of his subjects) and describes eloquently how mammalian, reptilian, and other attributes contributed to those outcomes

  • Uncommon in leadership books is the idea of visionary succession planning being a hallmark of a great leader. White illustrates how the best succession planning recognises the importance of both mammalian and reptilian characteristics

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Foreword
  3. 1. Become a Leader, a Better Leader, a Great Leader
    1. Great Leadership: Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
    2. The Mannie Jackson Story
    3. How to Use this Book to Become a Great Leader
    4. How to Use Your Life to Become a Great Leader
  4. 2. The Reptiles versus the Mammals
    1. Dichotomies and the World of Work
    2. The Softball Teams
    3. Business School Culture: Engineers and Poets
    4. Reptiles and Mammals: The Human Metaphor
    5. Reptiles and Mammals at Work
    6. Not Better, Not Worse, Just Different
    7. Both Critical
  5. 3. The Leadership Pyramid
    1. People of the Pyramid
    2. Foundation Requirements
    3. High-Integrity Leadership
  6. 4. Reptilian Excellence
    1. Why do Leaders Need to be Tough?
      1. Toughness Gives Their Organizations a Chance to Survive
      2. Toughness Sets the Tone at the Top
      3. Toughness Establishes and Maintains Authority and Credibility
      4. Toughness Gets Things Done
      5. Toughness Ensures Strong Management, Which Is Just as Important as Inspired Leadership
    2. What it Means to be a Tough Leader
    3. What are the Capabilities and Instincts to Develop to Become a Tough Leader?
      1. Understanding and Handling Financial Matters
      2. Setting the Bar High and Making Sure It Doesn’t Slip
      3. Dealing with Bullies
      4. Serving as Judge and Jury: Policy Violations and Integrity Infractions
      5. Cutting
      6. Litigating and Other Zero-Sum “Games”
  7. 5. Mammalian Excellence
    1. Why Do Leaders Need to Nurture?
    2. Positive Organizational Scholarship: Thriving, not Just Surviving
    3. What it Means to be a Nurturing Leader
      1. Treat People with Dignity and Respect
      2. See and Develop the Potential in People
      3. Make It About Your People, Not About You
    4. Capabilities to Achieve Mammalian Excellence
      1. The Dream Deal
      2. The Leadership Triad: Stretch, Support, Connect
      3. Be an Effective Communicator and a Good Listener
      4. Remember That Good Ideas Can Come from Anywhere and Anybody
      5. Maintain a Sense of Humor and Irony
  8. 6. The Secret of Becoming a Great Leader
    1. Abraham Lincoln and the Leadership Pyramid
    2. Lincoln and the Five Qualities of Great Leaders
      1. Innovation: Great Leaders Are Original Thinkers
      2. Risk Taking: Great Leaders Are Informed Risk Takers with a Track Record (but Never a Perfect Record) of Success
      3. Spotting Talent: Great Leaders Have an Insatiable Appetite for Outstanding Talent
      4. Helicopter View: Great Leaders Have an Extraordinary Sense of Perspective
      5. The Sparkle Factor: Great Leaders Have Presence
    3. Great Leaders Today
    4. Leading for Innovation
    5. Situations Matter and Results Count
  9. 7. Challenge Yourself: Become a Great Leader
    1. Develop Yourself
    2. Strive For Good Endings
    3. Be Resilient
    4. Final Thought
  10. The “Nature of Your Leadership” Survey
    1. Directions
    2. Calculate Your Score
    3. Your Leadership Profile
    4. What do Your Scores Mean?
      1. Your Foundation Requirements
      2. Mammals vs. Reptiles
      3. Mammalian Leadership Preference
      4. Reptilian Leadership Preference
      5. Your Great Leader Requirements
  11. Notes
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Appendix
  12. Acknowledgments
  13. About the Authors