Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership: A Guide for Inspiring Creativity, Innovation, and Engagement, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership

A Guide for Inspiring Creativity, Innovation, and Engagement, 1st Edition

By Gary A. DePaul

Productivity Press

356 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781498720595
pub: 2015-09-09
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Most leadership books focus on traditional leadership, which is based on managerial practices and command-and-control assumptions. Traditional leadership methods produce short-term gains but often at the cost of employee disengagement, team isolation, and distrust. Twenty-first century leadership methods produce short-term gains while inspiring creativity and innovation and boosting engagement.

Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership: A Guide for Inspiring Creativity, Innovation, and Engagement describes nine leadership practices that Gary DePaul derived by analyzing some of the best contemporary writers and thinkers on leadership. Explaining the nine practices, DePaul summarizes insightful leadership principles, beliefs, and practices, which includes tactics, tools, and resources that anyone at any career level can immediately begin using.

In addition, the book demystifies the leadership concept, helps you avoid harmful traditional leadership assumptions, provides a leadership development roadmap, and presents real-world examples of how individual contributors, managers, and executives, have applied each of the nine practices successfully.

After reading this book, you will be able to begin applying the nine proven leadership practices immediately in your organization. You will gain the skills needed to improve organizational strategies, diversity strategies, and leadership development training in your organization. You also will be able to improve how you manage and monitor your own professional leadership development.


"Gary DePaul’s comprehensive Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership makes sense of the vast sea of leadership books. Written with both managers and scholars in mind, DePaul’s study situates—and demystifies—the language of leadership in systems thinking. In 15 well-organized and lucidly written chapters, the author builds a series of metaphors to explain the practices of expert managers—analyzing, detecting, guiding, nurturing and more. This book will change your thinking about leadership."

—Edwin Battistella, Ph.D., Author of Sorry about That: The Language of Public Apology

"Gary has saved anyone with an interest in the topic of leadership a tremendous amount of legwork and created an incredible resource for leadership growth. The meta-analysis approach allows us to readily see patterns among leadership thought leaders and distills them into nine essential 21st century leadership practices. Most importantly, the rich assortment of examples, practices, and recommended actions provided are a tremendous asset to our development and growth as leaders. A note of caution: be prepared to see yourself and your own leadership assumptions and practices challenged (in a good way)."

—Rick Rummler, President of The Rummler Group; Co-author of White Space Revisited: Creating Value through Process

"In Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership, Gary DePaul weaves together and builds on some of the best current writers and thinkers on leadership. The nine practices – leadership in action – are challenging, but Dr. DePaul makes them eminently approachable. Trying even a few of the practices can strengthen your leadership qualities, capabilities, and behaviors. There is insight and practical advice for all levels of an organization, from individual contributors to the CEO."

—Don Kirkey, Ed.D., Director, Leadership Development, Lowe's Companies, Inc.

"Transitioning from traditional to 21st century leadership is a must. This book gives you the tools to achieve such a goal by analyzing, diagnosing, directing, nurturing, exposing, facing, developing, and communicating the elements that enhance the mental and moral qualities, as well as the capabilities and behaviors. Practicing this leadership approach ultimately improves personal and team performance, especially when Command and Control is shifted from a traditional leader to a shared-team function."

—Joel Rodriguez, Ed.D., Superintendent, Chapel Operations, U.S. Air National Guard

"All too often people are put into supervisor, manager, or leader positions because they are excellent engineers, accountants, or sales people. Most are not prepared for those positions in any systematic way. This book provides a roadmap for developing leadership practices within seven suggested underlying principles. The grids for aligning practices with the suggested principles and beliefs will be of particular value to the newly promoted, inexperienced manager or leader."

—Margo Murray, MBA, CPT, C-EI, President & Chief Operating Officer, MMHA The Managers’ Mentors, Inc.

"Gary has done an excellent job of reframing leadership with his emphasis on practices versus traits or qualities. Gary’s approach provides a deeper understanding of what constitutes leadership compared to what has been done in the past. The book will be an invaluable resource. Every learning and human resource professional can use this book to better ensure their programs focus on practices that contribute to sustainable gains in human capital."

—Judith A. Hale, PhD., CPT, CEO, The Institute for Performance Improvement, L3C; Author of The Performance Consultant’s Fieldbook and Performance-Based Certification

"In Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership Gary DePaul provides a Performance Improvement view of leadership practices. Part one demystifies leadership. Part two introduces the nine practices of leadership from a performance improvement viewpoint. These include: focus on results, take a systematic approach, add value, and partner. Throughout, Gary draws on his experiences as a Performance Improvement professional. A good choice to add to your performance improvement library."

—Dr. Roger M. Addison, CPT, Chief Performance Officer, Addison Consulting; Co-author of Performance Architecture

"The Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership removes the mystery and provides much needed shortcuts to deciphering the wide range of current leadership techniques and philosophies. It is a fantastic tool to help both new and successful leaders build and expand their repertoire and target the areas they want to explore further. A must read, and the foundation of every professional library, Dr. DePaul provides a fantastic starting point with lots of helpful tips and best practices."

—Matt Peters, MBA, CPT, Director, Talent Management, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

"In my work with the TLS continuum as discussed in our ‘Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma’, we discuss the need to convert managers into leaders as a critical requirement to implement the procedures we discuss. Gary DePaul’s new book provides a precise roadmap for that journey which can be followed by anyone in a leadership role."

—Daniel T. Bloom SPHR, Six Sigma Black Belt, SCRP, CEO of Daniel Bloom and Associates, Inc.; Author of Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma

"Gary DePaul’s does a masterful job of highlighting best practices for those interested in boosting their leadership skills. The chapter, ‘Facing the Unknown Like Lions’, is a great reminder of the importance of staying in the moment and listening to your mind and heart before taking action."

—Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer®, Matuson Consulting; Author of Talent Magnetism and Suddenly in Charge

"In his new book, Dr DePaul provides a helpful combination of tactics, tools, and resources for leaders at every level. It’s a handy, accessible, and easy-to-use guide for everyone interested in expanding his or her leadership capabilities."

—Jim Hill, CEO, Proofpoint Systems

Table of Contents


Clarifying Why Leadership Is Confusing


Reason 1: Leadership Is Like a Role but Different

Reason 2: Leadership Is More Than a Set of Qualities

Reason 3: Leadership Is Like a Skill, but Different

Reason 4: Some Leadership Theories Overlap with Leadership Styles

Reason 5: Leadership is Like Management, but Different

Reason 6: The Meaning of Leadership is Changing


Defining 21st-Century Leadership


Definition of 21st-Century Leadership and Desired Results

Performance Improvement Discipline

Desired Results

Maturing Individuals’ Mental and Moral Qualities, Capabilities, and Behaviors


Seven Principles, 26 Beliefs, and 9 Practices

Summary: What to Do

Revealing Traditional Leadership and Assumptions


Assumption 1: Leaders Need Authority

Assumption 2: Leaders Are Heroes Who Leave a Legacy

Assumption 3: Intimacy Weakens Leadership

Assumption 4: Giving Away Power Weakens Leadership

Assumption 5: Only One Person—Typically a Manager—Functions as the Leader

Assumption 6: The Leader Is the Smartest

Assumption 7: Team Members Are the Cause of Unproductivity

Assumption 8: Team Members Cannot Be Trusted

Assumption 9: Team Members Are Less Important than Revenue,

Profit, Operational Costs, and Leaders

Assumption 10: Talking Is More Important than Listening

Assumption 11: Recognition Is a Formal Process

Assumption 12: Leadership Requires Little or No Training

Assumption 13: Leaders Know How Effective Their Leadership Is

Summary: What to Do

Explaining 21st-Century Leadership Principles and Beliefs


Principle 1: Believe in Others

Principle 2: Connect with Others

Principle 3: Put Others First

Principle 4: Give Up Control

Principle 5: Encourage Change

Principle 6: Collaborate with Others

Principle 7: Develop Leadership Practices Continuously



Analyzing Like Detectives

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Analyzing Like Detectives

Characteristics of Analyzing Like Detectives

Rummler’s Fundamental Laws of Organizational Systems.

Anatomy of Performance and the Human Performance System

The Performance Chain Model and the Six Boxes Model.

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do

Diagnosing and Treating Like Doctors

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Diagnosing and Treating Like Doctors

Characteristics of Diagnosing and Treating Like Doctors

Rummler’s RIP

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do

Finding Key Behaviors Like Social Psychologists

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Finding Key Behaviors

Like Social Psychologists

Characteristics of Finding Key Behaviors Like Social Psychologists

Setting Goals and Measures

Systematic Approach for Finding Key Behaviors

Influencing and Adopting New Key Behaviors

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do


Communicating Like Agents

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Communicating Like


Characteristics of Communicating Like Agents

Tactics for Influencing Others to Take Action

Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do

Directing Like Guides

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Directing Like Guides

Characteristics of Directing Like Guides

Assessing Abilities Using Situational Leadership II

Techniques for Building Capability

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do

Nurturing Like Gardeners

Introduction: Importance and Benefit of Nurturing Like Gardeners

Characteristics of Nurturing Like Gardeners

Grenny et al.’s Structural Ability Tactics

Make It Easy: Handshaw and Performance Support Solutions

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do



Facing the Unknown Like Lions

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Facing the Unknown Like


Characteristics of Facing the Unknown Like Lions

Serious Listening

Obtaining Feedback

Using 360-Feedback

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do

Developing Like Scouts

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Developing Like Scouts

Characteristics of Developing Like Scouts

Kouzes and Posner’s Tactics for Generating New Ideas

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do

Communicating Like Broadcasters

Introduction: Importance and Benefits of Communicating Like


Characteristics of Communicating Like Broadcasters

Maxwell’s Eight Guidelines for Connecting with Others

Leading Examples

Summary: What to Do


What to Do

Word of Caution


Maturing and Sustaining Your Leadership Practices


The 21st-Century Leadership Development Roadmap

Stage I: I Know

Stage II: I Don’t Know

Stage III: I Know That I Don’t Know

Stage IV: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know

What to Do: Using the Roadmap to Sustain Your Journey

Considering Organizational Implications


Managing the Strategy Portfolio

Building Teams with Diversity and Inclusion

Rethinking Leadership Development

Advancing 21st-Century Leadership

Afterword: The Fundamental Attribution Error


About the Author

Gary A. DePaul is an author, speaker, and leadership consultant with Gary DePaul Consulting. With more than 20 years of practitioner and academic experiences in performance improvement, Gary helps elevate the performance of individuals, teams, and organizations. His areas of practice include leadership development, organizational evaluation, speaking events, workshop facilitation, and executive coaching.

Gary has served executives and teams in both international and national organizations including Lowe’s Companies Inc., Ceridian Benefits Services, Fidelity National Information Services, Johnson Controls Inc., and Arthur Andersen LLP. He has held several formal roles including senior manager of training and knowledge management, senior instructional designer, performance improvement director, and workforce readiness manager.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Management Science
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industrial Management
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Project Management