Leadership U | Gary Burnison

Summary of: Leadership U: Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve
By: Gary Burnison


Embark on a journey to explore the multifaceted world of leadership in this summary of ‘Leadership U: Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve’ by Gary Burnison. As you read along, you’ll discover the complex relationship between leader, followers, and situation, and how leadership is both a science and an art. Learn about the importance of balancing rational and emotional factors, the concept of ‘followership,’ and the many myths surrounding leadership development. Delve into the balance of power and influence, ethical dilemmas faced by leaders, and the role of character and values in shaping a leader. This book summary is your guide to understanding the intricacies of leadership and harnessing its potential for personal and professional growth.

Defining Leadership

Leadership involves a complex relationship between the leader, followers, and situation. Scholars view it as both a science and an art, and there is no single correct definition. Emotional balance is key and leaders must recognize when to change direction. Good leaders understand the importance of followership, with a preference for some measure of dependence. Being an expert on leadership is not necessary to being a good leader, but it can be helpful to know about leadership research.

Mastering the Art of Leadership

Leadership is a complex concept that goes beyond myths and romanticized ideals. In his book “Leaders,” Richard Nixon identifies qualities that make great leaders, such as playing the part, being a masterful public speaker, and conveying stately dignity. However, good leaders come in many forms, depending on the situation. Research shows that effective leaders differ from ineffective ones in their personality traits, cognitive abilities, skills, and values. Leadership involves both rational and emotional sides of human experience, and followers’ expectations, maturity levels, motivation, and competence impact the process. Furthermore, loyal followers emerge when power is conferred directly through election or indirectly by their natural emergence. Additionally, managers play a crucial role in carrying out the visions of leaders, but their functions complement leadership in the same individuals. In summary, mastering the art of leadership is essential to influence people’s group goals, but it requires a multifaceted approach that accounts for individual differences.

The Leadership Legacy of Walt Disney

Walt Disney was a visionary leader with a passion for excellence. He believed in experimenting with new ways of doing things and surrounded himself with creative talent to bring his long-range vision to life. Despite not being a people person, he recognized the importance of trusting his intuition to appeal to people of all ages. Walt wasn’t afraid to take risks and closely supervised everything carrying his name to ensure quality standards were met.

However, it wasn’t just Walt’s leadership style that made the Disney Company successful. His brother Roy’s financial management skills complemented Walt’s creativity, making them a dynamic duo. When Walt passed away, the company lost its visionary leader, and Roy’s managerial approach produced unimpressive formulaic movies for two decades. It highlights the message that effective leadership isn’t just about having influence but also entails cultivating a team with complementary skills and qualities that support long-term success.

The Essentials of Power and Influence

Power and influence are essential components of leadership, but they are not limited to leaders. Followers can utilize these traits as well. Power is a function of the leader, the followers, and the situation. Leaders can exert more power during a crisis, and both transformational and charismatic leadership are future-oriented. There are many kinds of power and influence, and rewards can be effective but may cause problems if followers do not value them. Coercive power can be used positively or negatively. Power has its limits, and sometimes bureaucracy can hinder even the simplest of tasks, as seen with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s struggle to remove a mouse from the White House. Overall, great bosses are vivid examples of how to put values into action, and leadership is a complex interplay of various factors that must be carefully balanced.

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