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Leadership Passages: The Personal and Professional Transitions That Make or Break a Leader

ISBN: 978-0-7879-7427-5
240 pages
September 2004, Jossey-Bass
Leadership Passages: The Personal and Professional Transitions That Make or Break a Leader (0787974277) cover image


Leaders face numerous critical crossroads in their careers, moments that can provide extraordinary learning and growth opportunities or ensnare them and prevent further development. The good thing about these passages is that they’re predictable, and with proper preparation, leaders not only can survive them to become stronger but can use these experiences to enhance their leadership, compassion, and effectiveness. This book lays out thirteen specific “leadership passages” based on research, interviews, and coaching of senior executives in such well-known companies as Johnson & Johnson, Novarits, Intel, GE, and Bank of America. For each passage, the authors describe what to expect, how the passage constitutes a choice point, and what effective leaders do to navigate and grow from the challenge. Some of the passages include: moving into a leadership role for the first time, dealing with significant failure for which you are responsible, derailing/losing your job, being acquired/merging, losing faith in the system, understanding the importance of children, family and friends, and personal upheavals such as divorce, illness, and death. The authors provide a wealth of practical tools and techniques to improve your leadership, along with real-life examples from recognizable leaders and breakthrough ways in which companies can use the concept of leadership passages to grow talent.
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Table of Contents


1. What Is Effective Leadership?

2. How Do Leaders Learn?

3. Joining a Company.

4. Moving into a Leadership Role.

5. Accepting the Stretch Assignment.

6. Assuming Responsibility for a Business.

7. Dealing with Significant Failure for Which You Are Responsible.

8. Coping with a Bad Boss and Competitive Peers.

9. Losing Your Job or Being Passed Over for Promotion.

10. Being Part of an Acquisition or Merger.

11. Living in a Different Country or Culture 12. Finding a Meaningful Balance Between Work and Family.

13. Letting Go of Ambition.

14. Facing Personal Upheaval.

15. Losing Faith in the System.

16. How Companies Can Use Passages to Develop Leadership.

17. An Eight-Step Survive-and-Thrive Guide.


About the Authors.


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Author Information

David L. Dotlich is former executive vice president of Honeywell International, author of Why CEOs Fail, Unnatural Leadership, and Action Coaching from Jossey-Bass, and CEO and managing partner of CDR International, a unit of Mercer Delta Consulting. He is an educator and coach to the top leaders in the world, including executives of Johnson & Johnson, Intel, Pfizer, Washington Mutual, Nike, and many more.

James L. Noel, principal of CDR International, is the former director of executive education for General Electric’s Crotonville.

Norman Walker, until recently worldwide head of human resources of Novartis, has also served as the top human resource officer for Grand Met, Kraft Foods, and Ford Motor Company.

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“…Leadership Passages has the answers…” (Business Executive, June 2005)

“…packs in more useable advice than most of its ilk…a useful book…” (Third Sector, 2 March 2005)

“…insightful…” (CA Magazine, 1st Dec. 2004)

“…a wealth of practical tools and techniques to improve your leadership…” (Strategic HR Review, Nov/Dec 2004)

"Leadership Passages describes systematically that it is far more effective and compelling to build on both successes and failures, rather than trying to overlook or even ignore the valuable lessons that unavoidable adversity in both our personal and business lives can teach us."
--Daniel Vasella, chairman and CEO, Novartis

"If you want to succeed and have inner peace at the same time, then this book is for you."
--Ram Charan , coauthor, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

"Leadership Passages describes in direct, simple, and honest language how human beings become great leaders. Filled with wisdom, insight, and practical advice from three world-class coaches—reading this book is like attending and completing a senior-level leadership program, or spending a week with the best executive coach."
--Linda Clark-Santos, senior vice president, Talent & Organizational Capability of Washington Mutual

"Do careers stop when we are passed over, have a bad boss, or just blow it?  Not according to this book. Great leaders pick themselves up and move on, learning while they go forward. Leadership Passages show us how."
--Ken Blanchard, coauthor, The One Minute Manager and The Secret

"This breakthrough book on leadership development is filled with practical advice on ways to lead others and ways to learn from your life as well as your career. We all know that experience is a teacher, but Dotlich, Noel, and Walker show us why!"
--Joe Berardino, vice chairman, Sciens Capital Management LLC, and former chairman and CEO, Andersen Worldwide

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