Insights based on interviews with 65+ leaders across multiple paths and varied backgrounds, including executives, politicians, high-level government appointees, founders, and family business leaders
Stories and themes in each chapter to help leaders consider factors that influence effectiveness
Strategies, tools, and templates to support leaders as they navigate the six distinct paths
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Table of contents (8 chapters)
About this book
The paths that leaders walk significantly influence their success, offering differential opportunities and challenges. While conventional wisdom suggests that leadership styles and approaches may be equally effective across all situations, more recent research demonstrates the importance of employing strategies more specifically aligned with the context.
This book offers critical insights and strategies, currently missing from the repertoire of leaders and their supporters, for managing across six distinct paths into leadership positions: promoted, hired, elected, appointed, founded, and family legacy. It illustrates lessons drawn from within and across paths, presented through themes, quotes, and stories drawn from interviews with over 60 successful leaders (executives, politicians, entrepreneurs, and more). While it is evident that these paths differ, those who study, hire, mentor, and coach leaders rarely consider the distinctions, nor suggest what may be learned across the paths.
The emerging leaders, HR professionals, researchers, and coaches among the book’s readers will learn not only from those who have walked one particular path, but also from the experiences of those trekking in other directions. Most leaders will cross from one path to another over the course of their career. Some executives interviewed for the book worked their way up the ladder in one company, only to be recruited to fill a C-suite position in another company. Others were appointed to high-level government positions after stints as elected officials. The authors identify major distinctions when moving across the six paths.
By reading this book, leaders and those who support them will develop greater self-awareness about each path so they can better leverage and manage their new challenges and opportunities from the first day in their new leadership position.
- leadership development
- leadership challenges
- leadership skills
- leader derailment
- leadership transitions
“This book is filled with recommendations for actions, strategies, and approaches that readers can apply to their own circumstances, both in the main text and in an appendix and companion website. Clark and Persily make a solid case in favor of their six categories and demonstrate the practical applicability of their theoretical approach. An informative and useful look at different types of leadership experiences.” (Kirkus, kirkusreviews.com, June 15, 2021)
“The six paths and their industry exemplars provide a fascinating perspective for those among us who observe casino leadership in action.” (asgam.com, September 6, 2021)
“Six Paths to Leadership offers insights based on commonalities and differences across six successful paths to leadership. … This book gives a range of different scenarios and a wealth of real-life examples. Most readers will find help to which they can relate in their unique situation. … I found this book a useful resource, demonstrating a structure for understanding how to develop your leadership skills and approaches to the challenges you encounter when leading a business or organisation.” (Ian Garner, lancashiretimes.co.uk, July 10, 2021)
“Six Paths to Leadership offers insights based on commonalities and differences across six successful paths to leadership. … This book gives a range of different scenarios and a wealth of real-life examples. Most readers will find help to which they can relate in their unique situation. … I found this book a useful resource, demonstrating a structure for understanding how to develop your leadership skills and approaches to the challenges you encounter when leading a business or organisation.” (Ian Garner, yorkshiretimes.co.uk, July 10, 2021)"Six Paths to Leadership is a comprehensive compendium relevant to students, scholars and developing leaders, blending insights from real leaders that are missing from the traditional books used in leadership classes. Students and professors interested in developing leadership competencies, through bringing the “real world” of leadership into the classroom, will benefit greatly from the challenges, opportunities, and strategies outlined in the book. Leadership researchers will benefit from examining the distinctions that leaders face across contexts. Every chapter provides insights that merit additional study."
– Leanne E. Atwater Ph.D., C.T. Bauer Professor of Leadership and Management, University of Houston
"To get where you need to go as a leader, you have to know the road you're on and the opportunities and pitfalls along the way. Six Paths to Leadership provides a grounded and actionable roadmap to identifying and leveraging the unique aspects of the leadership journey you're taking."
– Scott Eblin, Top 30 Coaches in the World, Global Gurus and author, The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success
"This is one of those rare books to keep on hand and return to frequently. Leadership is about making smart decisions and these trusted advisors provide just the right balance of theory and practice to guide you on your journey."
–Amanda Renteria, CEO, Code for America; former COO California Department of Justice; former Senate Chief of Staff
"Our field has long acknowledged that leaders can take many shapes and forms, and so it is odd that—by and large—it has been assumed there is one standard path to leadership. By demonstrating, with robust and fascinating data, that there are multiple paths (at least six archetypes) with distinctive qualities and considerations, this book puts an end to the fallacy of a single approach to leadership development—and, in the process, makes the path to leadership much more accessible to a wider set of emerging leaders."– Ethan Bernstein, PhD., Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School
"Few leadership books talk about how leaders come into their roles. Mark and Meredith make the case that the journey more than anything else influences leadership success. Being cognizant of others’ journeys as well as your own can shape better leaders. This is an overdue perspective and changes how we construct leadership development training."
– Russell M. Klosk, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization / Human Potential
"As an experienced HR professional, this book gives insight to those aspiring to become leaders and those who are leaders to have a clearer expectation of themselves and what the organizations are asking of them. It is a compass and guidepost to help our leaders function at their highest levels no matter how they are acquiring the title of leader."
–Darlene Slaughter, Chief Diversity and Engagement Officer, March of Dimes
"Finally, a leadership book that brings an understanding of context to the forefront so that the strategies and tools shared are specific, relevant, and spot on. Whether you are planning for your career or onboarding into a new position, Six Paths to Leadership is a must read for any leader, coach, or HR professional supporting others on their path to success."
– Amy Jen Su, Executive Coach & Author, The Leader You Want to Be
"Exploring the journeys that shape a leader’s skills adds important and often overlooked context. Too often, aspiring leaders focus on what they must develop; this book reminds us that the how is just as important. As someone who has traveled several pathways (insider, outsider, legacy), this book caused me to reflect on how important it was to adjust my style, and my expectations, based on the way I entered the role. I’d especially recommend this to leaders embarking on a transition so they may be intentional about how they leverage the strengths of the pathway to maximize success."
– Andrew Schmidt, Director, Enterprise Talent Acquisition at Lockheed Martin
"As young people chart their careers and aim to hold leadership positions, it's worth thinking about the paths people take to get there. Six Paths to Leadership describes the way leaders in both the public and private sector achieved their positions as well as the unique leadership challenges of different paths up. The stories, examples and analysis will help leaders from different sectors on their way up or transitioning to something new."
– Austan Goolsbee, Ph.D, Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, University of Chicago; former Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers
"This book includes two important paths to leadership that are often ignored but are predominant: the family (Legacy) leader and the founder (Creator). In all, the authors identify the many paths of leadership. The book is worth reading and I highly recommend it!"
–Dianne H. B. Welsh, Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
"Contrary to popular belief, one size does not fit all for advancement to leadership positions. This book is a clear and compelling examination of the leadership paths across any organization. Mark and Meredith provide a useful and practical guide to understanding how to have success, and still be oneself. Refreshing!"
– Patrick Malone, Ph.D., Director, Key Executive Leadership, American University
"Fascinating, rich, rigorous, and applied. What really sets Six Paths apart from other leadership books is the authors masterful use executives’ own words to illustrate practical and valuable lessons for a wide array of leaders from the boardroom to the classroom."
- Mel Fugate, Ph.D., Professor of Management, Mississippi State University
Authors and Affiliations
Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, USA
Mark A. Clark
Aspire@Work, Bethesda, USA
About the authors
Book Title: Six Paths to Leadership
Book Subtitle: Lessons from Successful Executives, Politicians, Entrepreneurs, and More
Authors: Mark A. Clark, Meredith Persily
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham
eBook Packages: Business and Management, Business and Management (R0)
Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-69016-8Published: 16 June 2021
eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-69017-5Published: 15 June 2021
Edition Number: 1
Number of Pages: XIX, 225
Number of Illustrations: 7 b/w illustrations, 4 illustrations in colour
Topics: Management, Human Resource Management