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

Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership
A Guide for Inspiring Creativity, Innovation, and Engagement

ISBN 9781498720595
Published September 9, 2015 by Productivity Press
384 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

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


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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.

Featured Author Profiles

Author - Gary A.  DePaul, Ph.D., CPT

Gary A. DePaul, Ph.D., CPT

Speaker, Author, Leadership Advisor, Gary DePaul Leadership Consulting
, North Carolina, United States

Learn more about Gary A. DePaul, Ph.D., CPT »


"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