5 ways to leadI love it when something challenges us to reconsider entrenched paradigms, and that’s just what Karen and Henry Kimsey-House do in their new book, Co-Active Leadership:  Five Ways to Lead. This short, pithy gem gives us  five dimensions of choice, opportunity, and possibility for creating a 360 degree model of leadership support for leading ourselves as well as others.

Sticking with the theme of 5 ways, there are five reasons why this book resonates with me.

Co-Active Leadership:

1) Challenges us to challenge our paradigms.

All too often, when we think about leadership, we picture only the top guy. This book debunks that view, noting that leadership isn’t the exclusive purview of the fellow whose name fills the top box of the organizational chart. Everyone can be a leader—no job title required, and do it in a multiplicity of ways…five in fact! Everyone can lead from within, out front, from behind, from beside, and in the field.

“…everyone has within them the capacity to lead and any organization or community is most dynamic, most alive, and most productive when there is a commitment to leadership at every level.” ~Karen and Henry Kimsey-House

2)  Advocates for a “yes, and” orientation to assure hearts, minds, and creativity stay open, not closed off by a surplus of either/or thinking.

“The more we are able to engage in enthusiastic disagreement with each other, the more we will be able to uncover the best in ourselves and each other.” ~Karen and Henry Kimsey-House

3)  Discourages the rugged warrior independence associated with being THE ONE who has all the answers. In a highly connected and complex world, it’s connections and partnerships that serve as currency for getting things done…together.

“We are most effective when we are able to lean in fully to the resource of the other people in our lives.” ~Karen and Henry Kimsey-House

4)  Places leaders and followers on the same level, since one role cannot exist without the other and context requires us to shift roles.

“…powerlessness is a two-way collusion; and ‘going along to get along’ come at a very high price and only keep the power imbalance in place.” ~Karen and Henry Kimsey-House

5)  Encourages generous use of David Whyte’s concept of courageous conversations.

“The best conversations make clear distinctions between what has gone before and what is now possible. They give the sense that we are part of something that is enlarging us or our organization rather than confining us.” ~Karen and Henry Kimsey-House

Which of the 5 ways of leading—from within, out front, from behind, from beside, and in the field—resonate with you? Which of the five reasons for reading strike a cord with you?


Image credit:  Book authors, Karen and Henry Kimsey-House