Good Leaders Learn : Lessons from Lifetimes of Leadership book cover
1st Edition

Good Leaders Learn
Lessons from Lifetimes of Leadership

ISBN 9780415659772
Published November 5, 2013 by Routledge
416 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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USD $79.95

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Book Description

How do leaders learn to lead? How do leaders set themselves up for success? This book explores the real-life experiences of a wide variety of leaders from different industries, sectors, and countries to bring to light new lessons on the importance of life-long learning.

Consisting primarily of a series of probing interviews, Good Leaders Learn presents the challenges, triumphs, and reflections of  31 senior and high-profile leaders, offering insight into how they learned to lead during their careers. The book pulls important and useful perspectives into a robust theoretical framework that includes the importance of innate curiosity, challenging oneself, risk-taking, and other key elements of good leadership.

With practical insights complemented by the latest leadership research and theory, this book will help current and potential leaders to build a solid foundation of the leadership qualities vital to their continuing success.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Leadership Character  3. Learning to Lead  4. The Interviews  5. You Have To Be Able To Communicate And Then Be An Example: John Furlong (President and CEO, Vancouver Olympic Committee; and Executive Chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps)  6. No Task Is Insignificant For Making A Family, A Community Or A Corporation Better: N. R. Narayana Murthy (Founder, CEO and Chairman Emeritus, Infosys)  7. I Am A Better Leader When I Can Represent That Which I Believe In, For Which My Passion Is Sincere, My Understanding Is Complete, And My Commitment Is Personal: Elyse Allan (President and CEO, General Electric Canada)  8. It Is Critical That Leaders Understand the Concept of Duty, Obligation: Daniel Akerson (Chairman and CEO, General Motors)  9. I'm A Big Believer That If You Don't Want To Be Criticized, Then Say Nothing, Do Nothing And Be Nothing: Cassie Campbell-Pascall (Captain, Canadian Women's Hockey Team)  10. Roll Up Your Sleeves and Work Shoulder-to-Shoulder with Others; Barbara Stymiest (Chairman, BlackBerry)  11. There Are Very Few Things In Life That You Can Control, But The One Thing That You Have Absolute Control Over Is The Quality Of Your Own Effort: Rahul Bhardwaj (President and CEO, Toronto Community Foundation)  12. Knowing When To Leave And Do Something Different Is One Of The Hardest Things For A Leader To Do: Carol Stephenson (Dean, Richard Ivey School of Business)  13. I Learned It's Not Good Enough To Be Right – People Have To Buy Into Your Vision: Michael Harris (22nd Premier of Ontario; Senior Business Advisor Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP)  14. Life Is A Blackboard That You Cannot Erase: Arkadi Kuhlman (President, CEO and Chairman ING Direct USA; Founder and CEO ZenBanx)  15. I Didn't Have Time To Think About Courage Or Where To Find Courage – You Just Have It: Linda Hasenfratz (President and CEO, Linamar Corporation)  16. Don't Under-Estimate The Value Of Your Early Career Moves. You Can't Make Up Lost Time: Steve Snyder (President and CEO, TransAlta)  17. Care With Your Heart, Concentrate Your Heart, Relax Your Heart And Open Your Heart: John Cheh (Vice-Chair and CEO, the Esquel Group)  18. Learn To Accept Accountability And The Consequences Of Failure: Leadership And Accountability Are Inseparable: Michael McCain (President and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods)  19. People That Mind, Don't Matter And People That Matter, Don't Mind: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon Limited)  20. I Had Always Felt My Strongest Role Was As The Voice Whispering In Somebody's Ear: Michael Shindler (Executive Vice President Hotel and Casinos, Hard Rock Café)  21. If You Have The Illusion That You Can Do Everything Well, God Help You – It Is Going To Be A Disaster: Chaviva Hosek (President and CEO, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance)  22. There's Credit In Mission Accomplishment – Don't Bring Back Excuses: Lieutenant General (ret.) Russel L. Honoré (Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina)  23. I Constantly Learn Lessons About Letting Go: Robert Bell (President and CEO, University Health Network)  24. I Like To Think People Think I Stand For Something: Eileen Mercier (Chairman, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan)  25. Leaders Tend To Be People Of Broad Interests And Knowledge: Purdy Crawford (Counsel, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP)  26. Trust Is Built On Behaviour – Not On What We Say The Values Are: Charles Brindamour (President and CEO, Intact Financial Corporation)  27. You Have To Create Not Only A Network, But Also A System Through Which Information Can Flow: Amit Chakma (President and Vice-Chancellor, Western University)  28. Coming From A Long Line Of Leaders I Was Raised To Be A Leader: Jody Wilson-Raybould (Regional Chief British Columbia Assembly of First Nations)  29. Reach For The Stars – But Keep Your Feet Firmly Planted On The Ground: Gautam Thapar (CEO and Chairman, the Avantha Group)  30. There Are Two Things In Life You Should Not Let Go – Your Values And Your Family: Umran Beba (President, PepsiCo Asia Pacific)  31. If You Are Not Creative In Getting Solutions And You Limit Your Expectations And Outcomes, You Are Not Going To Change The World: Antoni Cimolino (Artistic Director, Stratford Festival of Canada)  32. If You Are Not Working For People Who Inspire You, Who Are You Working For?: Sukhinder Singh-Cassidy (Founder and Chairman, JOYUS)  33. The More I Learn, The More Exciting My Life Is And The More Opportunities That I See: Chip Wilson (Founder, Lululemon Athletica)  34. There Is No Individual Who is Ever Bigger Than The Team: George Cope (President and CEO, Bell Canada Enterprises)  35. I Went Into Public Life Because I Felt That Was The Place That I Could Make The Biggest Contribution: The Right Honourable Paul Martin (21st Prime Minister of Canada)  36. Reflections on the Interviews  37. Conclusions on Learning to Lead  38. Leadership Insights for the Next Generation of Leaders

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Gerard Seijts is the Executive Director of the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership and holds the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Chair in Leadership at the Ivey Business School at Western University, Canada.


"I believe that what differentiates those who succeed in life from those who don't is the ability to learn. I have found that nowhere is this truer than in leadership. Leadership must be learned, studied and practiced. The most capable and successful leaders in business, or anywhere for that matter, have developed an insatiable passion to keep learning and honing their leadership skills. In Good Leaders Learn, Gerard Seijts aggregates in one useful and compelling source how some of the best leaders in our world today have harnessed their passion to learn to become and stay successful leaders with the ability to manage through good times and bad." – Bob McDonald, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company

"Good Leaders Learn provides readers with an honest personal account of the journey to the top from trailblazers around the globe. Their stories provide insight into the unique qualities that a good leader embodies.  From the boardroom to the hockey rink, Gerard Seijts’ thoughtful compilation serves as a handbook for future and current leaders—dishing out page after page of thought-provoking and inspirational lessons." - Bill Thomas, CEO, KPMG Canada

"I am often asked whether leaders are born or whether leadership can be learned. Leadership can absolutely be learned. In fact great leaders are constantly learning and adapting. Good Leaders Learn focuses on this point incredibly well. It confirms that true leadership is about being committed to life-long learning and development. This tireless commitment to learning is what distinguishes the truly great leaders from mere figureheads. It reminds us that the world’s best leaders take this responsibility seriously and serves as a great source of inspiration for the next generation to follow in their footsteps. I enjoyed this book very much!" - Peter Aceto, President and CEO, ING DIRECT Canada

"One of the prevailing hallmarks of the leaders profiled in Good Leaders Learn is that they never give up. The word "impossible" does not exist in their vocabularies. They learn from each challenge, setback and failure and become more effective leaders because of it. It is their ability to extract positive insights out of the seemingly negative, and their commitment to continually develop as leaders from these learnings that inspires and influences others." - Patricia Russo, Former CEO, Lucent Technologies and Alcatel-Lucent; Board of Directors, HP, General Motors, Merck & Co., and ALCOA, Inc.

"Expert performance, regardless of the domain of that expertise, is an acquired skill. Good Leaders Learn provides insights from a wide variety of exceptional leaders about the lessons they've learned, the ways they learned them, and how they worked to become still better leaders. This book highlights the continuous need for performance review, analysis, and adjustment as the foundation of successful leadership. It is a "must read" for leaders across the continuum of experience." - Janice Deakin, Provost and Vice President Academic, Western University, Canada

"Whether you’re interested in the theoretical concept of leadership development or just keen to learn more about some leaders’ life experiences, this book is definitely worth a read" - Maja Lucin, is Integrated Management Systems Department Director at Saga Doo Belgrade