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The Work of Leaders: How Vision, Alignment, and Execution Will Change the Way You Lead

ISBN: 978-1-118-63653-4
240 pages
April 2013, Pfeiffer
The Work of Leaders: How Vision, Alignment, and Execution Will Change the Way You Lead (1118636538) cover image


"...a bright gem of a book."
—JIM KOUZES & BARRY POSNER, authors of the best-selling The Leadership Challenge®

Praise for The Work of Leaders

"The Work of Leaders is a bright gem of a book. In a crystal clear and to-the-point style, the authors make leadership instantly accessible with a memorable model, rock solid fundamentals, original research, compelling stories, and highly practical tips for putting the principles to immediate use. There are invaluable lessons on every page, and you'll enjoy discovering each one. We highly recommend The Work of Leaders to anyone who aspires to make extraordinary things happen in organizations."
—JIM KOUZES & BARRY POSNER, authors of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge®

"Clear, distinctive, intuitive, and deeply researched, The Work of Leaders gives every reader not only several 'a-ha!' moments, but smart, meaningful suggestions for changing the way we all lead."
—ELAINE BIECH, author of The Business of Consulting

"The authors have indeed done their homework! Their combined expertise and engaging writing gives their readers a one-stop shop for understanding and improving the way we lead. Bravo!"
—BEVERLY KAYE, coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em

"The Work of Leaders shows you how to create a thriving organization by setting a vision and then collaborating with your people to guide your company to success. It is the strategic tool you need to move your business forward, with imaginative writing and a practical approach you can use right away."
—TOM MCKEE, CEO, The Ken Blanchard Companies

"Anyone who is in a leadership position or is responsible for evaluating leaders should make this book a must-read. Collectively, the book's authors are unique in their knowledge, background and ability, which is what distinguishes this great piece of work from others of its kind."
—SIDNEY FELTENSTEIN, former CEO, Yorkshire Global Restaurants

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword by Dr. Bernard W. Franklin xiii

Introduction xvii

1 Welcome to the Work of Leaders 1


2 Introduction to Crafting a Vision 13

3 Crafting a Vision Through Exploration 23

4 Crafting a Vision Through Boldness 33

5 Crafting a Vision Through Testing Assumptions 43

6 Summary of Crafting a Vision 53


7 Introduction to Building Alignment 61

8 Building Alignment Through Clarity 69

9 Building Alignment Through Dialogue 79

10 Building Alignment Through Inspiration 89

11 Summary of Building Alignment 99


12 Introduction to Championing Execution 107

13 Championing Execution Through Momentum 113

14 Championing Execution Through Structure 125

15 Championing Execution Through Feedback 135

16 Summary of Championing Execution 147

Afterword: Using VAE in Your Organization 153

Appendix A: The Development of the Work of Leaders VAE Model 161

Appendix B: Feedback Outtakes 189

References 193

Resources 197

About Inscape Publishing 201

About the Authors 203

Index 207

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Author Information


Julie Straw oversees Inscape's network of more than 1,800 trainers, coaches, and consultants and has guided development of this book from the reader's perspective.

Mark Scullard, PhD, leads all aspects of research for Inscape and personally combed through all of the data—hundreds of thousands of item responses—that made this book possible.

Susie Kukkonen leads all product development efforts at Inscape and juggled the writing of this book with a full-tilt product development schedule.

Barry Davis oversees both marketing and product development for Inscape, and his passion for innovation means that he doesn't understand the phrase, "But that's how we've always done it."

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Press Release

May 13, 2013
A Simple Structure for a Complex Subject: Leadership

Based on six years of research of leadership best practices, The Work of Leaders: How Vision, Alignment, and Execution Will Change the Way You Lead (Wiley; 978-1-118-63653-4; May 2013; e-book available) is a new work that presents a simple structure that neatly captures the complexity of contemporary leadership thinking.

The Work of Leaders boils the work that leaders do down to three areas: crafting a vision, building alignment, and championing execution. Vision, Alignment, Execution (VAE) — The Work of Leaders defines, demystifies, and contextualizes each of these “magic words,” and sets up the three key “drivers” for each step of the VAE process. The book further introduces key behaviors that leaders can use as they approach each step of the model and provides specific strategies for improving leadership effectiveness.

Recognizing that leadership is one of the most studied areas of organizational development, the authors draw from the best-known leadership authorities, while leveraging their access to data from thousands of leaders and followers and their connections to hundreds of organizational development consultants.

In addition to proprietary research, The Work of Leaders relates illustrative examples and real-world scenarios that bring the VAE process to life. Each chapter includes data tables, anecdotes, and quotes from key thinkers to add interest and depth to the discussion.

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