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The Ambiguity Advantage: What great leaders are great at
What a find! In a market soaked with books on how to become a great/better/effective leader it’s great to find one so simple in approach and well written. You can dip in to particular sections or read it front to back – it’ll work just as well either way and the insights will shift your approach to leadership – if you’re smart!
The lessons section is particularly useful – and practical – offering real examples of how leaders successfully navigate the ambiguity they face. In our modern VUCA world the insight is something we could all use to improve our performance. A must read for all leaders.
What a brilliant read. I dip in and out of leadership reads – this one I genuinely couldn’t put it down. Magnificently insightful and one you can draw on immediately. Top team in development – read this. Developing leader manager capability – read this. Your organisation in change against a backdrop of ambiguity – read this. Tomorrow’s world brought right into today’s hands….and if ambiguity is uncomfortable for you – it will be less so with this book to hand. I’m sharing this with my CEO.
This is a gem of book, it is easy to read & brings the thinking to life through some great stories. As a manager in a large corporation, it has changed the way a view & react my colleagues & environment. As a working Mum it has also been the source a surprising insights in how a deal & really make the most of fluid situations. I can’t recommend it highly enough. A word of WARNING! when you get your copy don’t put it down, it appears to walk to others people desks…My boss asked what had i done on my personal development recently, as he had noticed a positive change, needless to say he has now bought his own copy.
This is one of the most important books on leadership and innovation I’ve read in years; I’ve marked up nearly every page with new ideas and questions. And with the current interest in complexity theory and adaptive management, I can’t believe I’m the first reviewer here.
Chapter 1, the Conclusion, opens with an intriguing question: Are you part of a new world’s dawning or an old world’s dying? That is, do you embrace the ambiguity, complexity, chaos, constant change, fuzzy boundaries, and risk taking of the emerging world? Or do you cling to the status, quo, traditional management models, standard processes, policies and procedures, conventional wisdom and business rules of yesterday?
Part I, How Things Appear To Be, contains two chapters, The Nature of Ambiguity and Types of Ambiguity. Good stuff here from paradox to randomness to moral dilemma and cognitive dissonance. But for me it all boils down to “arrogance and plowing ahead `because we are really good.'”
Part II, The Nature of Leadership, is the meat of the book and outlines four leadership styles or modes. Chapter four is on the Technical Leader, chapter five the Cooperative Leader, chapter six the Adaptive/Collaborative Leader, and chapter seven the Generative Leader. A number of attributes are discussed such as vision, values, power, risk, problem solving, diversity, and so on. Different types of leaders solve problems, for instance, in very different ways: some make them go away, others adapt to them, a few leverage and build on them.
Part III, Finding the Advantage, consists of chapters on Lessons to Learn from Great Leaders, Getting Creative with Ambiguity, and Developing Ambiguity Acuity. Some of these lessons were covered earlier in the book–such as don’t make risk go away, exploit it–but here we have a useful summary nonetheless. One of the takeaways for me in this section: knowledge is power in the old world; imagination is power in the new world. The bottom line, whether for an individual or an organization: evolve or die.
Before reading this book, I believed that ambiguity was something to be squeezed out of all scenarios. This book grew my awareness and enables me to bend and form a situation that I can’t grasp, and to influence a beneficial outcome without control. It is indeed a powerful tool.
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