Title: Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life

Author: Kevin Cashman

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1576755990, 215 pages


Kevin Cashman’s book on why personal development is essential to exemplary leadership is a classic. First published in 1998, this self-help manual quickly became a breakthrough business bestseller. This revised edition is now on the required reading lists of numerous universities and leadership programs around the globe. For this second edition, Cashman, a coaching consultant, conducted extensive new research. He asked corporate CEOs and company presidents to review his models of leadership and to critique his leadership propositions. Additionally, his firm interviewed corporate leaders to learn which areas of personal development they believe relate most closely to leadership.

While some insights are obvious, others provide fresh ideas. The book offers a virtual coaching experience that will help you develop as a “whole person” and, thus, as a “whole leader.” getAbstract recommends this respected work to all leaders. It offers valuable insights, ideas, lessons and tools they can use to improve themselves, their employees, their organizations and their communities.

Three people who became leaders from the inside out

The first example: An elementary school student named Peter suffered horribly in a fire. He got burns on 90 percent of his body. The nurses who cared for him constantly propped open his mouth and eyelids so they would not seal shut while Peter healed. The valiant boy spent a year in hospital undergoing painful rehabilitation. When he could finally walk, he visited other patients to reassure them that they also could endure.

After his discharge from the hospital, Peter began junior high in a school where he didn’t know anyone. On his first day, the other students in the cafeteria avoided the disfigured boy. Only one girl, Laura, approached Peter and welcomed him. As they ate lunch, she looked intently at Peter, hoping to discover the real person behind the gruesome scars. Remarkably sensitive, Peter responded to her inquiring gaze with these simple words: “Everyone is avoiding me because they don’t know me yet. When they come to know me, they’ll hang out with me. When they get to know the real me inside, they’ll be my friends.” And because of Peter’s indomitable spirit, that is exactly what happened.

The second example: The Toro Company manufactures lawn mowers. When Ken Melrose was Toro’s CEO, he assigned a design team to develop an innovative metal hood, hoping that the new hood would save production costs and time. Toro invested a lot of money in this design effort, but the team was unable to come up with a workable prototype. After much time and effort, the project turned out to be an utter failure. Melrose summoned the members of the design team to his office. They were naturally anxious and fearful about the meeting’s consequences. However, when the designers entered the CEO’s office, they were amazed to find that they were the guests of honor at a celebratory party featuring refreshments and colorful balloons. Melrose told them, “Most innovative ideas don’t work out. We need to keep trusting, creating, risking and celebrating the good ‘tries’ — particularly when things don’t work out.”

The third example: A Minneapolis reporter interviewed a visiting Tibetan monk who had suffered a difficult past. The monk explained that when the Chinese authorities took over Tibet, they imprisoned and tortured him for many years. Now he was free. The reporter asked the serene monk what frightened him the most during his years of incarceration and physical abuse. The monk replied, “I was most afraid that I would lose my compassion for the Chinese.”

The big-hearted monk, former Toro CEO Ken Melrose and young Peter are “leaders of life” and examples of exemplary personal growth. They can serve as role models because they lead “from the inside out”…

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