Book Review: Leadership Agility

Just finished reading Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs.

It’s a fairly well-written leadership development book offering a very compelling framework for assessing your leadership level and identifying the competencies you need to develop in order to evolve your leadership to the next stage.

Even though the authors acknowledge that there’s more to leadership than anticipating and initiative change and therefore keep the focus on “leadership agility”, given how much of a leader’s role is anticipating and initiating change, I view this as a book about leadership, period.

The first part of the book provides an overview of the framework and a good high level illustration of it, by replaying the same dinner conversation, each time with a person at a different stage of leadership agility.

The third part focuses on assessing your own leadership agility and charting a path for improving it.

The second part is the heart of the book, consisting of five chapters mirroring the five leadership agility stages in the framework: Expert, Achiever, Catalyst, Co-Creator and Synergist. Each stage is described through two perspectives (supported by case studies/real-world examples):

  1. An outside-in perspective: covering how a leader at each level anticipates and initiate change at three different scales:
    1. Pivotal conversations
    2. Leading teams
    3. Leading organizational change
  2. An inside-out perspective: covering how a leader’s five key competencies develop at each stage:
    1. Awareness & intent
    2. Context setting agility:
      1. Situational awareness
      2. Sense of purpose
    3. Stakeholder agility:
      1. Stakeholder understanding
      2. Power style
    4. Creative agility:
      1. Reflective judgement
      2. Connective awareness
    5. Self-leadership agility:
      1. Self-awareness
      2. Developmental motivation

The first perspective is summarized in the book  neatly in the book in the following table:

leadershipagility01

leadershipagility02

The second, however, is not summarized anywhere, which is one of the book’s greatest drawbacks. The good news is that I thought that creating one will be a good way for me to get more value out of the book. It’s a bit of an eye-chart, so I suggest printing it out if you want to give it a more thorough read:

leadershipagility1

leadershipagility2

PDF Version of Cheat Sheet

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Book Review: Leadership Agility