Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review of "In Extremis Leadership" by Brigadier General Thomas A. Kolditz - Leading As If Your Life Depended On It

Brigadier General Thomas A. Kolditz is in a unique position to write about leadership in extreme situations. His "In Extremis Leadership" draws from his experiences teaching at West Point and the Yale School of Management, leading in combat in the Middle East, and mentoring members of the award winning Black Knights Parachuting Team from West Point. To supplement his own personal observations about leading in extreme conditions - when life and limb are at risk - he and his team of researchers interviewed a number of other extreme leaders. Those interviewed included mountain climbing instructors, parachutists, combat veterans, firefighters, and police SWAT team members.

The author's purpose in writing this book was first of all to examine the unique attributes of leadership that must be present and exercised in extreme situations when lives are on the line. Secondly, he and his team extrapolated those lessons that could be applied to any other leadership challenges - in the business world, academia, the athletic field, and elsewhere. In evaluating the common threads that emerged, General Kolditz identifies these common traits among extreme leaders:
  • They are inherently motivated
  • They embrace continuous learning
  • They share risk with their followers
  • They have a common lifestyle with their followerds - no elitism
  • They have high competence, trust, and loyalty - and inspire these things in others

The book is filled with fascinating vignettes and interviews that highlight how these extreme leadership attributes are played out in a variety of life and death scenarios.

This book would be extremely helpful to anyone who is a leader, or who aspires to be a leader, in any field of endeavor. It is a major addition to the growing corpus of leadership books, and is offered as part of a series by The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute.



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