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My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way

ISBN: 978-0-470-90573-9
256 pages
February 2011, Jossey-Bass
My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way (0470905735) cover image


In a clear and compelling voice, Frances Hesselbein delivers key leadership lessons. Tracing her own development as a leader, she narrates the critical moments that shaped her personally and professionally: from her childhood in Pennsylvania, to moving up from Girl Scout troop leader to Girl Scout CEO, to founding and leading the Leader to Leader Institute, to her friendships and experiences with some of the greatest leaders and thinkers of our time. Each chapter includes an inspirational story, a key lesson and how to apply it to daily life.
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Table of Contents

Foreword (Jim Collins).

Introduction: Being Called Forward.


1 Stories of Family, Lessons of Love.

2 Embrace the Defining Moment.

3 Defining Yourself with the Power of No.


4 My Management Education.

5 New York Calls.

6 Challenging the Gospel.

7 Becoming a Change Agent.

8 Finding Out Who You Are.

9 My Journey with Peter Drucker.

10 The Indispensable Partnership—Governance and Management, Board and Staff.

11 Strengthening the Leadership of the Social Sector.

12 Adventures Around the World.


13 To Serve Is to Live.

14 Seeing and Listening.

15 Leaders of the Future.

16 Conclusion: Shine a Light.

About the Author.


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Author Information

Frances Hesselbein is the president and CEO of the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management), and editor in chief of the award-winning quarterly journal Leader to Leader as well as coeditor of 27 books translated into 29 languages. Named the "Best Nonprofit Manager in America" by Fortune magazine, she serves on many nonprofit and corporate boards and has won numerous awards and honors including the highest civilian honor in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award recognized her exemplary leadership as CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA from 1976 to 1990, her role as the founding president of the Drucker Foundation, and her service as "a pioneer for women volunteerism, diversity, and opportunity."
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Press Release

February 04, 2011
My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way

How does a woman with no college degree, rise to become the CEO of The Girls Scouts, win the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and get named by Fortune Magazine as the “Best Nonprofit Manager in America”?  

My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way (Jossey-Bass; 978-0-470-90573-9; February 2011) by Frances Hesselbein reveals her remarkable personal story and the principles that have served and guided her well throughout her extraordinary life. The book offers a look at what shaped Frances Hesselbein personally and as a leader, from her youth in the hills western Pennsylvania to her professional journey with the Girl Scouts of the USA where she went from troop leader to transformational CEO, to how Peter Drucker handpicked her to found and lead the Drucker Foundation, and how she later transitioned the Foundation to the Leader to Leader Institute. With excitement and humility, she relives the key moments that have shaped her life of leadership including the day she received the country’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

This extraordinary book also includes stories about her world travels to deliver her message of leadership and her notable experiences with as well as what she has learned from some of the most distinguished leaders of our time including Peter Drucker, John Gardner, Max DePree, Presidents Clinton and Reagan, General Eric Shinseki, Jim Collins, Warren Bennis and Marshall Goldsmith.

As inspirational as it is practical, My Life in Leadership is filled with Frances Hesselbein’s universal leadership lessons that will serve any leader, of any gender or age, in any sector.

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