The Inner-Work of Leadership is Now Available for Kindle

July 26, 2011

It has been a little over a year since my book The Inner-Work of Leadership was published. In that time the market’s shift to ebooks has been noteworthy.  And now with the closing of Borders Books, that trend is likely to accelerate.

Today, I’m happy to announce that The Inner-Work of Leadership is now available in both a Kindle edition and a Nook edition. For a limited time, the introductory price is only $4.95.

The book has attracted enthusiastic reviews from readers at Amazon. I would like to share just two of them.  John Wood, Founder and former CEO and Chairman, Fleetwood Corporation Ltd, Australia wrote:

The Inner Work of Leadership is an outstanding contribution! One of the most important books I have read. As each page turned the narrative took me gently, deeper and deeper into the world of conscious leadership. Its words inspire the open hearted and open minded to make their inner work their primary responsibility in life. Powerful possibilities tumbled out of my mind as I was drawn to reconsider the world of authentic collaboration, cooperation, creativity and productivity. The prize, a more loving, sustainable workplace and world, became clear as the critical nature of shared purpose unfolded. A world of abundance beckoned as you read in example after example the convergence of doing what works with what matters in a context of love, understanding, wisdom and common sense.

Jim Vinoski, operations business manager for a Fortune 500 company, wrote:

When a brilliant old friend of mine recommended this book to me, I knew it had to be good.

I just finished, and now I know: “good” is an understatement. This is one of the three top leadership books I’ve ever read, and it surpasses the other two because its lessons will help me be not only a much better leader, but a much better person as well (though I guess I have those two backwards in order of importance!) First there was the shock of realizing the true meaning of the notion of distributed knowledge (which I thought I’d long ago embraced and internalized, having read Hayek, Read and others on the subject): No, I can’t and don’t know everything, or anything close to everything, and nor do I have to! In fact, it’s best if I don’t even try! Then came the amazing lessons about letting go of the ego and truly focusing on the people around me. The Inner-Work of Leadership proved to be a grab-bag of phenomenal ideas.

Professor Brownstein has inspired me to apply his techniques not only with the people I “lead” from an org chart standpoint, but up the ladder as well, with the leaders above me. Along the way I can recommend they read an inspiring book…

As an aside, I found it intriguing how many of Brownstein’s sources and recommended readings were from authors I’d already discovered – not only in the leadership realm, such as Charles Koch (who wrote one of the other two of my favorite leadership books), but much farther afield, including Viktor Frankl, Christopher Alexander, and even Dr. John Sarno! But even with all that previous common discovery, his book tied it all together and gave me one of those rare and valuable moments of, “Of course – it should’ve been so obvious!” that so often mark the truly groundbreaking.

Thanks so much, Professor Brownstein. You’ve made my life better. How many authors can ever claim such a thing?

Purchase your own copy—paperback or for Kindle at Amazon. At Barnes and Noble the book is available as a paperback or for Nook.

Insanity, Einstein advised, is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The Inner-Work of Leadership offers another way. You will be guided to do your inner-work to discover hidden beliefs that stand in the way of your genuine personal and professional transformation—and the transformation of the organization you lead.

Professor Jim Glasgow found The Inner-Work of Leadership “rich in insights that will have you asking why haven’t I noticed that before?” “Read seriously,” he writes, “this book will help leaders better know themselves, reduce stress, improve relationships and live more satisfying lives, all while becoming more effective at directing and listening to their organizations.”

If you haven’t read the book already, take advantage of this opportunity to own your own copy.

If you know others who are ready to do the inner-work of leadership, this is a great time to recommend the Kindle edition at the introductory price of $4.95.

I appreciate your support in getting out the word.


The Inner-Work of Leadership

April 13, 2010

My new book, The Inner-Work of Leadership, is now available at Amazon. Find it by clicking here.

In writing this book, I hope to help readers identify and remove barriers within themselves that interfere with effective leadership and with living a fulfilling life.

If you find the book to be a helpful guide to healthy change, I would be grateful if you post a review of the book at the Amazon page for this book. Positive reviews at Amazon are very important; they influence many book buyers. Your post will help this book reach a broader audience.

I have set up a Facebook group for readers of The Inner-Work of Leadership. Please consider being a founding member of the group. To join, click here. I hope the Facebook group becomes a community for those who have been influenced by the book and related material. I encourage you to invite others to join.

Just posted at the website for the book is the first in a series: “Conversations with Inner-Work Leaders.”

If you would like to share this book with others in your organization, quantity discounts are also available at the book web site. Finally, at the web site you will find instructions on how to receive a free autographed bookplate for your copy of the book.

The book is meeting an enthusiastic reception:

“Immensely powerful! The Inner-Work of Leadership transcends the traditional boundaries between professional and personal improvement. For all books that I read, the ultimate test is do I make any strategic, tactical, or personal changes as a result of reading it? This book hit all three dimensions in a lasting and profound way.” –Gabriel Batstone, Managing Director, CAE Flightscape

“There is profound wisdom on every page of this book.”—Warren Nilsson, PhD, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

The Inner Work of Leadership provides a clear path and roadmap for the open minded reader to reexamine and re-think their paradigms about leadership. The Inner Work of Leadership is a groundbreaking must read for those currently in leadership positions and for those aspiring to leadership positions.” –Peter Quinn, Senior Vice-President for Corporate Development, Greenhorne & O’Mara, Inc.

“Not just another how-to-book; The Inner-Work of Leadership provides a catalyst that takes the reader on an inward journey of self-discovery and reflection. This is a mind-opening adventure that will benefit readers both in their business and personal lives.”–Frank R. van Vliet, Director of Leadership and Organizational Development, Baltimore Aircoil Company

Here is the complete Table of Contents:

Prologue: Why Inner-Work Is Necessary

  • Breaking Our Chains
  • The Better Way

Chapter 1: Leadership and Beliefs

  • Good to Great
  • Stale Beliefs
  • Seeing Our Beliefs
  • Mindset

Chapter 2: Leading Without Controlling

  • Costly Errors
  • The “Great Man”
  • Is There Order Without Control?
  • Nordstrom’s Simple Rule
  • Bob Nardelli Takes “Control”
  • Ricardo Semler Gives Up Control
  • Looking Past Problems

Chapter 3: From I to We

  • Nucor Steel
  • Just Plain Jim
  • Wholeness Is Not Contrived
  • The Attributes of Wholeness
  • Two Thought Systems
  • Am I Separate?
  • Alone and Frightened
  • Externalizing Our Way to Ineffectiveness
  • Taking Responsibility
  • Closing the Separation Gap

Chapter 4: Leading From a False Premise

  • Big Egos, Bad Leaders
  • The Real Alternative
  • Beginning the Inner-Work
  • Real Individuality Comes From Wholeness
  • The Subtraction Solution
  • Finding Our True Self At Work
  • Healing the Cause

Chapter 5: Surrendering to the Leader Within

  • Dropping Our Stories
  • Demoting the Doer
  • Actionless Action
  • No Kernel of Nourishing Corn
  • “It’s All Here Within Your Hearts”

Chapter 6: Leaders Choose Again

  • Becoming a Neutral Observer
  • The Theme That Won’t Stop Playing
  • Catching Our Self-Deception
  • Allow Gratitude to Transform You
  • Choosing Appropriate Diet and Exercise
  • Choosing Happiness

Chapter 7: Values and Principles Show the Way

  • Success Without Integrity
  • Success Beyond Success
  • Living From the Inside Out
  • Just a Few Smashed Parcels
  • Generalizing the Lesson
  • Do You Eat Your Broccoli?
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Principles and Profits

Chapter 8: The Power of Purpose

  • Purpose Is What Anything Is For
  • Add Value to Everyone
  • Purpose Is Everything
  • An Inspired Purpose
  • Coherence around Values and Principles
  • Synchronicity and Purpose
  • Sweet Are the Uses of Adversity
  • You Don’t Have To Be Good
  • Climbing the “48”
  • Deepening Our Purpose

Chapter 9: Engaging Others

  • A Basic Problem
  • You Can’t Disagree at NASA
  • Stump-the-CEO
  • Dialogue and Engagement
  • Preparing for Dialogue
  • The Fear of Being a Doormat
  • Emergent Change

Chapter 10:  Change Happens

  • True Power Comes From Being Nobody
  • It’s Not About You
  • Prevent Defenses
  • Pursue Organizational Intelligence
  • Education at Zappos
  • Educating Others
  • “There Is Nothing Stronger Than Gentleness”
  • The Larger Journey

In the preface of the book, I acknowledge that ongoing dialogue with my readers and my students has been essential in its writing. Thank you for your wisdom and for every question, every challenge, and every opportunity you gave to me to express ideas that I believe respond to our universal need to find ourselves as we join with others. If The Inner-Work of Leadership touches the lives of others, you will have helped make that possible.

To order at Amazon, simply click here.

Best regards,

Barry Brownstein

Your Actions Speak So Loudly

January 21, 2008

There is a story about Mahatma Gandhi. A mother was concerned about how much sugar her son was eating; and so seeking advice, she took her son to see Gandhi. She asked Gandhi if he would tell her son to stop eating sugar. Gandhi replied come back next week. The following week the mother and son returned and Gandhi told the son to stop eating sugar. The mother asked Gandhi, “This was a very arduous journey for us to come to see you, why couldn’t you have told my son last week to stop eating sugar?” Gandhi replied, “Last week I was eating sugar, this week I gave it up.”

This story illustrates a central tenet of Gandhi’s leadership philosophy: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” One of the reasons that Gandhi was a great leader was because he was an authentic leader. An authentic leader inspires others because they are true to their core values and purpose.

How many authentic leaders, whose actions match their stated values, are running for president? Consider the case of Hillary Clinton.

Recently, the New York Times interviewed Hillary Clinton on economic policy. In the interview, Clinton “put her emphasis on issues like inequality and the role of institutions like government, rather than market forces.” Clinton talked of “economic excesses — including executive-pay packages she characterized as often ‘offensive’ and ‘wrong’ and a tax code that had become ‘so far out of whack’ in favoring the wealthy.” Touching a sensitive nerve, Clinton said that these excesses “were holding down middle-class living standards.”

Few could disagree that the middle-class are being squeezed. Salary increases for many Americans are failing to keep up with rising energy and food prices; and in spite of the bursting of the housing bubble, real estate prices remain high. In many organizations, CEO pay has reached troubling levels; and CEO pay doesn’t even seem to be tied to performance.

In the 1950s the average CEO earned 40 times the average pay of his employees; today that number is closer to 400 times. In an expanding economy, such disparities are little noticed; in a troubled economy, this is a recipe for middle-class discontent.

Yet, is Mrs. Clinton suited to address middle-class living standards? This past Friday, during the Nevada primary campaign, the Clinton campaign called the N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms in Las Vegas. According to a Las Vegas source:

The Clintons’ tab came to $1,530 and included entrees of nine steaks, three chicken, three salmon and three Maine scallops, two lobster pappardelle, salads, sashimi, rock shrimp, and various side dishes.

Defender of the middle-class? One cannot help but wonder how many small campaign checks the Clinton campaign had collected from middle class donors—donors who could never dream of such an expensive meal. Is Clinton being the change she says she wants to see in the world?

How can so many be so hoodwinked? Fear, caused by difficult economic times, brings forth polarizing politicians—politicians who stir-up discontent while offering increasingly demagogic solutions to problems. Until the time comes when the public is ready to listen to politicians who address root causes and engage in reasoned dialogue about these causes, we can be sure our economic difficulties are far from over.

Derek Jeter’s Leadership Meltdown

October 8, 2007

Success in baseball, as in all sports, is not just about ability; as importantly, it is a function of mental toughness. Derek Jeter, the great Yankee shortstop, has exhibited that mental toughness many times, but he has never exhibited great leadership ability. Friday night, during the Indians vs. Yankees playoff game, his failure to lead may have cost the Yankees the game.

The type of mental toughness that I am talking about is exhibited by someone who practices hard, but then is quiet and focused during the game.

During the game, such a player is in what is called the “zone.” The “zone” is characterized by the absence of mental chatter. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi uses the term “flow” for being in the “zone.” He explains that flow is “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Bill Russell, the legendary center for the Boston Celtics described how it felt when he was in the “zone”: “I could almost sense where the next play would develop and where the next shot would be taken, I could feel it so keenly that I’d want to shout to my teammates, ‘It’s coming there!’ except that I knew that everything would change if I did.”

Back to Jeter. In 2003, Jeter was named the Yankees’ captain—only the 11th player in history to hold that storied post. Despite his post, reports persist about Jeter’s inability to get along with teammate Alex Rodriguez.

Friday night the Yankees were ahead 1-0. Their rookie sensation Joba Chamberlain was on the mound. Almost out of nowhere, Jacobs Field was infested with seemingly millions of bugs called Canadian Soldiers. These bugs are a nuisance, but they do not bite.

Chamberlain was clearly rattled. The Yankees trainer repeatedly came out of the dugout to spray him with bug spray. Rather than helping the situation, the bug spray seemed to provide a sticky surface; the bugs landed and stuck to Chamberlain.

Where was Jeter during these repeated stoppages of play? Was he talking to his rookie pitcher and helping him get back into that inner flow that is so necessary for success?

No, Jeter was busy spraying himself. As New York Times correspondent Joe Lapointe writes, Jeter “constantly waved his hands in front of his face and to the sides of his head. He brushed the front of his uniform shirt rapidly and repeatedly. He looked like a third-base coach giving signals on video tape fast-forwarded.”

Again, these were not biting bugs. They were a nuisance. My family and I once sat on top of a mountain and ate lunch while surrounded by these bugs. I’m not telling you it is pleasant, but I can report that the battle of the bugs is a game to be won only in the mind. I would expect a rookie to be distracted; but I would not expect the captain of the Yankees to be. And I would expect him to put the needs of the team before his own need to spray himself.

A leader “shows the way by going first.” On Friday night, Jeter failed to remind himself that the real distraction was in his mind and not in the world. Returning to the “zone” he could have helped others return too.

I am not advocating a mindless exhortation that simply tells someone to buck up and not be bothered. If you believe something external is having an effect, exhortation will only go so far.

Instead, a leader demonstrates a deep and profound understanding of their ability—and the ability of others—to make another choice. First, by making their own choice, they provide a living example for others. Then, sometimes, a gentle reminder of the choice to be made is necessary. If this is done with respect for the person who is having a hard time, often there is immediate relief.

Friday night, Jeter did neither. He was of no help to the rookie Chamberlain. It is a mystery to some why talented teams sometimes do not succeed. Often it is a simple failure of leadership.

The FAA Threatens To Ground Your Flight

September 13, 2007

Suppose you have a leadership position in your organization. Further suppose that the division you lead is using antiquated technology from the 1960s. And finally, suppose that you have been leading this division for 5 years and have repeatedly failed to upgrade the technology. Your failures are contributing to major problems that affect millions. And now is the time for you to leave your post.

While you or I might leave quietly and then engage in some serious reflection, others might try the opposite exit strategy—depart making a lot of noise in an absurd attempt to convince others that the effects of their failed leadership is the cause of the problems that affect millions.

This week, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Marion Blakey said that skies are overcrowded and that airlines need to shrink their schedules. If they don’t voluntarily shrink their schedules, she threatened government action to force them to do so. All of this was said on the eve of her leaving her post that she has held since 2002.

There is much that Blakey’s speech didn’t bother to say. Most importantly, she failed to mention that the root cause of the overcrowding was the air traffic control system that the FAA operates. This system is radar-based, goes back to the 1960s, and was not designed to handle today’s traffic flow in our skies. To ensure safety, the system requires air traffic controllers to either read blips on radar screens or visually follow aircraft. It is a system that is subject to both human-error and the limits of the antiquated technology.

The FAA has plans to replace radar-based traffic control with a satellite-based global positioning system. This new system will allow more airplanes to fly and greatly reduce delays. Incredibly, the first part of the system is already seven years behind schedule.

FAA’s Blakey is taking advantage of the public’s widespread ignorance of her agency’s failures. It is easy for the public to get incensed at their airline when flights are delayed. Flight delays are just the effect—the cause is the irresponsible and dangerous failure of the FAA to use modern technology to insure airline safety and to handle growing demand for airspace.

Many of you are familiar with the fast-growing grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s. The chain is very popular; many drive long distances to shop there. When the first Trader Joe’s opened up in my area, it was persistently crowded. Trader Joe’s responded like most businesses do to increased popularity; they expanded. Last year Trader Joe’s opened up a second store in my area and they are now building a third.

Suppose the CEO of Trader Joe’s, instead of opening new stores, blamed customers for shopping too often at his stores. He might then threaten to reduce store hours if customers didn’t voluntarily cut back their shopping at his stores. Of course this is an absurd scenario. This is not the way a normal business responds.

The normal laws of business and customer service do not apply if you are a government agency or if you have a monopoly on the service that you provide. After all, if you have captive customers who must select your service no matter how poor it is, you too might engage in blame filled excuses for your poor performance.

A Leadership Lesson from King Henry V

September 3, 2007

Shakespeare’s Henry V provides a profound lesson in leadership. The story takes place at a terrible time in medieval England. It is 1415, near the close of the Hundred Year War with France—a war which was fought over complex, territorial claims. The centerpiece of the play is the Battle of Agincourt.

England has invaded France, yet they are hopelessly outnumbered. The English soldiers are hungry, exhausted—having marched 260 miles in two and a half weeks—and ill with dysentery.

Just before the battle begins, in his famous St. Crispin’s Day speech, King Henry responds to those who are understandably lamenting the situation and wishing for more men:

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

When faced with tough circumstances, many believe the solution is found in obtaining more assets. While assets are important, there are intangibles such as the belief in common purpose that is even more important. Dee Hock, the founding CEO of Visa Corporation, explains:

To the direct degree that clarity of shared purpose and principles and strength of belief in them exist, constructive harmonious behavior may be induced. To the direct degree they do not exist, behavior is inevitably compelled…The alternative to shared belief in propose and principles is tyranny.

Henry V understands the power of shared purpose. One of the ways that Henry establishes common purpose is that he is himself an integral part of, and not separate from, the fighting force he leads. He cares about his men, seeks their counsel, and has real bonds with them. In his St. Crispin’s speech, Henry promises that however humble a soldier’s birth, participating in this exalted purpose will grant them nobility.

But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;

With his army united by common purpose, there is no need for Henry to compel behavior. Indeed in his St. Crispin’s Day speech, Henry offers to release any soldier who does not want to participate in the coming battle; he even promises to fund their trip back to England. Henry recognizes that fighting with fewer men who are united in purpose is better than fighting with more men who have no shared purpose:

We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

One of the main reasons that Henry’s army was able to overcome overwhelming odds is that Henry was open to innovation. The English used trained longbowmen while the French relied on the slower and less accurate crossbow.

One of the reasons that the French disastrously resisted new battle tactics was that they looked down on longbowmen as upstarts. Henry’s English army, united by purpose, had no such prejudice.

Henry’s St. Crispin’s day speech may be the most powerful in all of literature on the power of shared purpose. The purpose is so exalted that Henry promises that when the soldiers are older and have forgotten everything else, they will remember this battle:

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.

It is difficult not to reflect on contemporary problems. Organizations where employees share no common purpose frequently flounder. Their leadership cries for more assets and neglects the real issue.

In Iraq, much of the population is not united in the common purpose of creating a society guided by the rule of law; instead many feel a stronger allegiance to ancient tribal identities. Until they change their collective societal view, there is no possibility of peace.

This summer my children’s Shakespeare camp performed Henry V. To get ready for the play we viewed Kenneth Branagh’s extraordinary 1989 film of the play. Branagh is the director, and he also gives a remarkable performance as Henry. His St. Crispin’s day speech, available at You Tube, is embedded below. Incidentally, the soundtrack by Patrick Doyle is as extraordinary as the film.

Who is More Intelligent: Tiger Woods or Lee Iacocca?

August 13, 2007

This is just a little bit of a trick question. I have no idea who is more intelligent, but I do know who is more committed to growing their intelligence and their ability. The answer is Tiger Woods.

In her brilliant new book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford professor Carol Dweck uncovers paradigms about ability and intelligence about which many of us are unaware. An understanding of these paradigms can dramatically increase our effectiveness as leaders or managers, as educators or students, or as parents, in sports or business or just about any activity that we undertake.

Dweck’s research shows that an individual holds one of two basic paradigms about intelligence. One paradigm about intelligence is what Dweck calls a fixed mindset and the other paradigm she calls a growth mindset. If your views about intelligence are of the fixed mindset, you will believe that your ability is set in stone. If you have a growth mindset, you believe that abilities can be developed and are built over time.

The two beliefs have dramatically different implications. A person with a fixed mindset will have a need to prove themselves over and over. Challenges become frightening to a person with a fixed mindset. Dweck writes that every situation is evaluated: “Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”

Dweck observes that people with a fixed mindset make very little effort in what they do; they believe their work should be effortless. When things do not go right, they quickly lose interest. When things go wrong, they tend to blame others.

Individuals with a growth mindset have a completely different attitude about abilities and effort. They don’t believe anybody can do anything. However, they do understand that one must devote continuous and ongoing effort to develop their abilities.

Back to Lee Iacocca and Tiger Woods. Iacocca is a classic example of a leader with a fixed mindset. For an individual with fixed mindset, everything is about how they look. Iacocca endlessly promoted himself, even claiming that the job of running Chrysler was tougher than the job of being President of the United States.

While manufacturing substandard cars, such as the K car, Iacocca spewed endless, vitriolic hatred towards the Japanese. Blaming others for problems that you have created yourself is a classic mark of a leader with a fixed mindset. Chrysler’s problems were caused not by Japanese cars, but by their own poor cars and Iacocca’s poor leadership skills, which he refused to improve. Not being willing to improve oneself is another characteristic of an individual with a fixed mindset.

Tiger Woods is of course the polar opposite. Despite arguably being the greatest golf champion of all time, he endlessly works to improve his golf game. He has been quoted as saying that even more important than being a champion is being the “best me.” In Tiger Woods’ world, there is endless room for improvement.

Dweck provides a simple diagnostic test. Read each statement and decide whether you mostly agree with it or disagree with it:

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things but you really can’t change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, your can always change it quite a bit.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.
  5. You are a certain kind of person and there is not much that can be done to really change that.
  6. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
  7. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
  8. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.

A person with a fixed mindset will agree with statements 1, 2, 5, and 7, while a person with a growth mindset will agree with statements 3, 4, 6, and 8.

There is no need for specific instructions as to how to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. By becoming aware of our own beliefs of which we were formally unaware, we automatically begin the process of change. Since this process of change is different for each of us, there can be no specific instructions.

Beliefs we hold of which we are unaware, bind us. Dweck helps to remove our chains.

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