John P. Kotter shows with compelling evidence what leadership really means today, why it is rarely associated with larger-than-life charismatics, precisely how it is different from management, and yet why both good leadership and management are essential for business success, especially for complex organizations operating in changing environments.
The critics who despair of the coming of imaginative, charismatic leaders to replace the so-called manipulative caretakers of American corporations don't tell us much about what leadership actually is, or, for that matter, what management is either.
Leadership, Kotter clearly demonstrates, is for the most part not a god-like figure transforming subordinates into superhumans, but is in fact a process that creates change -- a process which often involves hundreds or even thousands of "little acts of leadership" orchestrated by people who have the profound insight to realize this. Building on his landmark study of 15 successful general managers, Kotter presents detailed accounts of how senior and middle managers in major corporations, in close concert with colleagues and subordinates, were able to create a leadership process that put into action hundreds of commonsense ideas and procedures that, in combination with competent management, produced extraordinary results.
This leadership turned NCR from a loser to a big winner in automated teller machines, despite intense competition from IBM. The same process at American Express and SAS helped businesses grow dramatically despite the fact that they were "mature" and "commodity-like." Kotter also shows how leadership turned around operations at P&G and Kodak; produced huge business successes at PepsiCo, ARCO, and ConAgra; and made the impossible occasionally happen at Digital.
Thousands of companies today are overmanaged and underled, John Kotter concludes, not because managers lack charisma, but because far too few executives have a clear understanding of what leadership is and what it can accomplish. Without such a vision, even the most capable people have great difficulty trying to lead effectively and to create the cultures which will help others to lead.
John P. Kotter is Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Harvard Business School. He has won McKinsey awards for two Harvard Business Review articles and has received the 1985 Johnson, Smith and Knisely Award for new perspectives on executive leadership. Professor Kotter has achieved international recognition as an expert on leadership in business with his works The General Managers, Power and Influence, and The Leadership Factor, which have been translated into six languages.
Paul Fulton President, Sara Lee Corporation Kotter's insights are remarkable. A Force for Change will be required reading for all our young managers.
William H. Genge Chairman, Ketchum Communications, Inc. John Kotter demythologizes the concept of leadership and clearly distinguishes it from management. In the process, he provides new guidelines for leaders and managers trying to optimize their relationships and effectiveness.
Michael M. Lombardo Center for Creative Leadership The most compelling and incisive description of leadership processes and structures that I've ever seen.
Thomas J. Mithen General Electric Full of powerful, useful ideas that will be of great service to those who have been struggling to define and assess leadership.
Warren R. Wilhelm AMOCO Corporation One not only learns from his book, but is excited by it. The weaving of research results and case examples is extremely effective.
Robert E. Gregory, Jr. President, VF Corporation A Force for Change will be received as the seminal work on the nature and function of leadership.
Irvine 0. Hockaday, Jr. Chief Executive Officer, Hallmark Cards, Inc. There are many echoes but few voices writing about leadership and management these days. John Kotter's is one of those voices. His concepts offer fresh perspectives which hit home with force and endurance.
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