HARD TIMES : LEADERSHIP IN AMERICA by BARBARA KELLERMAN
"Hard Times" fills a gap in our conversation about leadership by focusing on the context within which leadership takes place. Written as a checklist, it introduces readers to what they need to know in order to lead wisely and well in 21st Century America. Read more
Leadership has never played a more prominent role in America's national discourse, and yet our opinions of leaders are at all-time lows. Private sector leaders are widely seen as greedy to the point of being corrupt. Public sector leaders are viewed as incompetent to the point of being inept. And, levels of trust in government have plummeted. As the title of this book conveys, leaders in America are experiencing hard times.
Barbara Kellerman argues that we focus on leaders, and even on followers, while ignoring an essential element of leadership: context. This book is a corrective. It enables leaders to track the terrain that they must navigate in order to create change. Rather than a handy-dandy manual on what to do and how to do it, Hard Times is structured as a checklist. Twenty-four brief sections cover key aspects of the American landscape. They trace evolutions and revolutions that have revised our norms, transformed our populations and institutions, and shifted our culture.
Calling out patterns that emerge from the checklist, Kellerman challenges leaders to do better. This fascinating read will change the way that all of us think about leadership, while compelling us to consider what it means for our future. Hardcover.
Barbara Kellerman is the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.