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Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter
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Format: Hardcover, 320pp.
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Pub. Date: September 4, 2012
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Item No: 9781422186701
Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:
Will your next leader be insignificant—or indispensable?
The importance of leadership and the impact of individual leaders has long been the subject of debate. Are they made by history, or do they make it?
In Indispensable, Harvard Business School professor Gautam Mukunda offers an enticingly fresh look at how and when individual leaders really can make a difference. By identifying and analyzing the hidden patterns of their careers, and by exploring the systems that place these leaders in positions of power, Indispensable sheds new light on how we may be able to identify the best leaders and what lessons we can learn, from both the process and the result.
Profiling a mix of historic and modern figures—from Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill and Judah Folkman—and telling the stories of how they came to power and how they made the most important decisions of their lives, Indispensable reveals how, when, and where a single individual in the right place at the right time can save or destroy the organization they lead, and even change the course of history.
Indispensable will also help you understand this new model so you can use it in your own life—whether you’re a citizen casting a ballot, an executive choosing your next CEO, or a leader trying to make your mark.
“Indispensable is indispensable—an eye-opening analysis of how we should evaluate leaders in our politics and our organizations, and a set of gripping narratives about some of the most fascinating people who have ever lived.”
—Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; author, The Better Angels of Our Nature and How the Mind Work
“Indispensable provides a masterly, absorbing, and exceptionally original approach to the age-old study of leadership.”
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and presidential historian
“I have studied innovation and change from many dimensions. Somehow, however, I had simply assumed that the right leader can be selected to effect the changes required. Indispensable has taught me that I was woefully naive. This is a great book.”
—Clayton M. Christensen, bestselling author, The Innovator’s Dilemma
“Indispensable provides fascinating insights into how leaders are shaped by their unique personal and professional journeys and by the context of their times. Whether they were focused on saving countries, saving companies, or saving lives, the individuals profiled here are memorably illuminated through Mukunda’s sharp and engaging analysis.”
—Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman, President, and CEO, Merck & Co
“Why do some leaders change the course of human events, while others find themselves not quite up to the task when history knocks? In a study that applies to business as well as to civil society and politics, Mukunda explores the ‘filtration’ systems through which we choose our leaders, providing fresh and fascinating insights.”
—David Gergen, Professor of Public Service, Harvard Kennedy School; senior political analyst, CNN
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About the Author
Gautam Mukunda is an assistant professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School. Before joining the HBS faculty, he was the National Science Foundation’s SynBERC Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT’s Center for International Studies. His research focuses on leadership, international relations, and the political, economic, and social implications of innovation and technological change.
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