Books: Leading When It Matters MostBy
You’re It, by Leonard Marcus, Eric McNulty, Joseph Henderson, and Barry Dorn, explores the concept of meta-leadership, defined by the authors as “the capacity to work well with and help steer organizations beyond one’s immediate circle.”
Meta-leaders know themselves. They assess situations and marshal forces. They lead up, down, across, and beyond. For anyone preparing to lead teams through crisis and change, You’re It is highly readable and provides valuable insight.
Many of the book’s lessons are familiar reminders for leaders at all levels. Demonstrate integrity. Listen carefully. Communicate frequently. Establish clear lines of authority. Consider how decisions will affect all stakeholders. Accept that some decisions will be wrong. The authors promote personal, transformational growth through introspection by including questions for journaling at the close of each chapter.
Key meta-leadership concepts include understanding yourself as a leader, grasping the situation, and leveraging connectivity, which refers to the network of stakeholders. Leaders may need a good grasp of logistics, psychology, and politics on top of technical expertise. A trusted advisor or second set of eyes may be critical to a leader’s success.
You’re It gives a broad range of well-written examples to illustrate key concepts. Leaders coordinate responses to emergencies such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They formulate Coca-Cola’s response to global events, such as a downturn in world markets that was compounded by disasters in Fukushima, Japan. A project manager successfully coordinated the expansion of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts on deadline, within budget, and with minimal disruption to museum operations. Meta-leaders build a common sense of vision and purpose. They influence the actions of those in various sectors as well as those within their organizations.
The authors are associated with the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI), created at Harvard University in response to 9/11. By fostering networks and training senior leaders, NPLI seeks to strengthen leaders’ ability to respond to emergencies. The NPLI is a joint program of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.