Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life

Reading is fun. But not every book is really worth reading it – especially when it comes to business books. Therefore I already started the “Book of the Week” Series, where I share comprehensive abstracts on my favourite books.

Now I want to start another series called: “Business Books” – featuring information on books in a more compact way. Today I would like to present you “Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life” by Kevin Cashman (2008).

Synopsis
In 1998, Kevin Cashman first published Leadership from the Inside Out, a breakthrough bestseller, connecting personal growth and leadership effectiveness. In it, Cashman noted that society, viewing leadership as an external event that people do, tries to separate the leader from the person. However, it is this author’s premise that leadership is not something people simply do but comes from a deeper reality within—an individual’s values, principles, life experiences, and essence.

It is a process, an intimate expression of who the individual is—the whole person in action. Thus, as people learn to master their growth as people, they will be on the path of mastering “Leadership from the Inside Out.” Unfortunately, however, mastery of leadership is usually seen as mastery of something outside the self, instead of the ongoing, internal growth process it is. Definitions of leadership also tend to be externalized, focusing on outer manifestations (e.g., vision, innovation, results, drive, etc.), instead of getting to the fundamental essence of leadership itself. It is not that Cashman does not support competency models, he simply thinks that when they are perfectionist, mythical, and unconnected to business needs, they are counterproductive. He maintains that three patterns are fundamental to the support of the various competencies or styles of the most effective, results-producing leaders: (1) authenticity, (2) influence, and (3) value creation.

From these principles, an essential definition of personal leadership emerges: “Leadership is authentic influence that creates value.” This perspective says that leadership is not hierarchical but exists everywhere in the organization. The roles of leadership change, but the core process is the same. Viewing leadership from this vantage point, Cashman explored three essential questions for improving leadership effectiveness:

  • How can we enhance our authenticity as leaders?
  • How can we extend the influence we have?
  • How can we create more value?

Leadership from the Inside Out is about the ongoing journey to discover and develop these purposeful inner capabilities in order to make a more positive contribution to the world. It is a journey characterized by seven practices: (1) Personal Mastery, (2) Purpose Mastery, (3) Interpersonal Mastery, (4) Change Mastery, (5) Resilience, (6) Being Mastery, and (7) Action Mastery. These practices constitute an ongoing, interrelated growth process in which the practices illuminate each other. Cashman demonstrated that when they are arranged together, they can be thought of as an integrated whole, with each supporting progress toward a more fulfilling destination: making an enduring difference from within. Over the past ten years, Leadership from the Inside Out has been integrated into the curricula of more than 100 universities, and its concepts have influenced numerous leadership programs.

Moreover, mounting research from authoritative sources continues to validate many of Cashman’s principles concerning human development and life effectiveness. For example, it has been found that such principles as authenticity, purpose, awareness, synergy, and service, to name just a few, are not simply nice abstract concepts—good to contemplate but of no practical use. They are also enduring values that produce tangible and measurable cause-and-effect relationships. They are fundamental to who we are as human beings, essential to our effectiveness as leaders (and not just corporate leaders, but leaders of life).

And they tend to sustain their life-enriching impact for the long term. This revised and expanded second edition of Leadership from the Inside Out, which is still framed in Cashman’s seven simple “mastery areas,” shares this corroborative research and offers impressive new case studies, tools, and practices. In addition, an expanded coaching model highlights Building Awareness, Building commitment, and Building Practice—an emphasis that provides a more comprehensive set of tools to apply to personal, team, and organizational leadership.

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