Leadership Conversations | Challenging High-Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders
Book Review


Alan Berson and Richard Stieglitz’s new book challenges readers in Chapter 1 with the question “Do I [you] want to be a Leader” and systematically outlines comparative management and leadership styles within four conversation types. This is a very good book, particularly for Project Management Professionals (PMPs), those thrust into relatively new leadership positions, and those ready to advance their leadership level.

Structural Comments

Blended Management and Leadership Styles

On pages 12 and 31, the authors introduce management & leadership and management & leader maturity levels, respectively. These two matrices are very useful for self-assessment and launching management vs. leadership discussions such as in our Personal Leadership Philosophy module. Particularly useful is the observation on page twelve that a successful leader is a blend of the two styles, discovered through self-examination. Part 1 by itself provides the reader a “deep dive” into his or her own leadership performance.

Four leadership conversation styles comprise the heart of the book: Conversations to Build Relationships; Conversations to Develop Others, Conversations to Make Decisions, and Conversations to Take Action. On pages 48, 97, 155, and 202, an accompanying management | leadership matrix sets up the reader for continued self-evaluation. Likewise a “Ten Ways” summary of each conversational style is provided starting on pages 32, 88, 145 and 194, respectively.

Of the four conversational style sections of the book, Part 3, Conversations to Develop Others is the superior of the four, and most congruent with the introduction challenging leaders to focus on developing others as a primary activity.

Golden Nuggets

Learn the New Rules

Chapter Five, Learn the New Rules, provides a great summary of the need for people skills, clarification of values, pro-active relationship development, competitive strategy and win-win thinking. In many ways, the chapter elements mirror the teachable points of view of Academy Leadership Boot Camp and Leadership Excellence Course modules. The overarching message of the Conversations to Develop Relationships chapters is the strategic nature of personal contact today, and the vital need for relationship-building skills today. As an example, Chapters five and six are persuasive arguments for use of LinkedIn and continued contact with Academy Leadership clients long after coursework and executive coaching are done.

The Battle for Talent

“Organizations that lack an effective leadership development program are forced to buy talent in the open market – a time-consuming, expensive, and risky approach”

Communication, setting expectations, and coaching permeate Part 3, Conversations to Develop Others. These chapters align very well with our Energize2Lead™ Profile, Personal Leadership Philosophy, Communications and Coaching modules. This part of the book should be specifically recommended to new leaders, especially those lacking confidence initially sharing a Personal Leadership Philosophy.

For Further Study

Chapter 7 opens with a reference to a 2011 study questioning whether extroverts or introverts are more effective as leaders. The study breaks new ground challenging leader self-selective behavior, and is worth taking a look at.

JE | March 2013