To lead is to serve. To serve is to live

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Book Review: ‘More Hesselbein on Leadership’ by Frances Hesselbein, James M. Kouzes (Foreword by)

By Ivana Bragahei

 120 pages | July 2012

Paperback: US$ 15.99  Nook book: US$ 11.49

If you already heard that to serve is to lead, you may are ready to go for “To serve is to live”. That is main point of “More Hesselbein on Leadership”. In that book Frances Hesselbein, CEO of her leadership institute and former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, compiled 21 articles from Leader to Leader journal. Beside of foreword by James Kouzes, the book has three other parts: The personal side of leadership, Building and sustaining strong organizations and Leading today and Tomorrow.

For people who are used to traditional leadership books, that one could be a bit disappointment. No, I’m not saying it is not good. It is easy to read, most the text are short cases, but do not be fooled, sometimes you can get overwhelmed by the amount of information in few paragraphs. We take time to digest them. For instance, Hesselbein tells that leadership is not about title or destination, and students often question her “How I know that I’m already a leader?” She said: “When your work express yourself”. Simple words, deep meaning. Her leadership definition is “a matter of how to be, not how to do”. It is a quality and character of the leader that determines the performance, the results.”

Within leadership skills she has highlighted, communication frequently appears. Hesselbein considers that “when we observe the lowest level of trust and the high level cynicism, the call for leaders who are healers and unifiers”. And advice if want people to listen banish the “but” replace with “and”. For her leadership is a matter of who is heard, not who speaks.

What more you can find in that book? Some today’s challenges for nonprofit such as cultural change in organization, although the content is not new, its focus is classic way: revisiting mission and powered practice and beliefs through all staff, partners and costumers. The book also give you a panorama of 2000s nonprofit leadership, profile of some organizations and its leaders. She worked with Peter Drucker, father of modern management, and was Chairman of his foundation. Several times his thoughts are reinforced by Hesselbein as mentor and example of leader.

In sum, More Hesselbein on leadership could be an option for nonprofit leaders. You can find inspirational phrases and insights from Hesselbein leadership journey. For instance, she has a very good closing about her leadership and management style: inclusive and circular. “All our experience in all three sectors, in our own country or with colleagues around the globe, confirms that when we move into a position, a relationship, a structure, or an organization, it is the circles, the inclusive circles, that free up the spirit.”

The author: Admirable leadership journey 

Frances Hesselbein is recognized as nonprofit leader in USA, mostly. She is called “grande dame of American management” by The woman BusinessWeek,”Best Nonprofit Manager in America” by Fortune magazine and has a Presidential Medal of Freedom. In fact, Hesselbein was awarded several times and has twenty honorary doctoral degrees. She started as a volunteer troop leader and become CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She is coeditor in 29 books translate to 29 languages. Currently, she is editor in Chief of Leader to Leader, the premier leadership journal, President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management) and is part of many nonprofit and private sector corporate boards.