The Secret Language of Leadership

by Simon Butler March 1, 2008
Book Author: 
The Secret Language of Leadership

I have just finished a great book called "The Secret Language of Leadership" by Stephen Denning. This is his latest volume of the theme of great leaders tell great stories. Denning, you may already be aware is an ex VP of World Bank, who headed up their knowledge/Learning function.

This book is quite meaty in places and so I have a particular recommendation for how to tackle it. I would start with the epilogue, which is excellent and provides a brilliant context for which to tackle the preceeding chapters. I would also recomend that you read the apendices before you tackle the main text as there are some great pieces here, particularly the quiz in appendix 3, whose answers made me want to start the book again to nod appreciatively at the points made.

There are two particular sections of the main book which stood out for me, both near the end. The first is a passage titled "what is a conversation", which highlights that this is an exercise in order to collaboratively enhance understanding and goes on to contrast this with the difference between this negotaition and argument. I shared with my team and they felt the disarming nature of breaking down preconceptions and personally held views useful every day. The second section I would highlight, which is also near the end of the book, here Denning discusses leadership as a behavior not a role and demonstrates that anyone can and indeed must in order to be part of a successful enterprise look to demonstrate this, regardless of how many, if any direct reports you may have. This can also be particularly useful when applied to those who work in very flat hierachical structures.

I would also say that an added bonus of this book is the notes section at the back which is a goldmine of further reading and related texts and papers.

I think this one is well worth a read, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks Simon

Award-winning, community based leadership development for your organisation.