BookLife Reviews by Publishers Weekly

Editor's pick!

“Coming together is what it takes to address ‘wicked’ problems,” Justis and Student note in this innovative guide to leadership in a time of societal upheaval, to preparing organizations for the challenges of an uncertain future, and to enacting real change through collaboration and "recombinant innovations'', which is the process of repurposing and refashioning successful ideas in different ways in different fields and circumstances. They make a powerful case for new leadership strategies, with an emphasis on intersectionality and networking while building partnerships among businesses, the government, and nonprofit organizations—and lay out practical steps to making such collaborations succeed. Don't Lead Alone draws on fresh case studies and the authors’ own experience to demonstrate the urgency—and some best practices—for working in tandem with multiple branches of leadership teams. The subtitle’s imperatives—"Think Like a System,” "Act Like a Network,” "Lead Like a Movement"—serve both as the authors’ message and the text’s organizational foundation. Forming an easy-to-follow road map, each section is a building block to creating and leading within a constantly evolving newtork to build a better, adaptable, diverse team. "One of the advantages of acting like a network is that not only does it bring in new people, but it also brings in new tools and skills,” the authors note, with their customary precision and lucidity. Exploring ideals such as code-mixing, taking risks, managing secret agendas, and writing with inviting directness but also thoughtful thoroughness, Justis and Student provide a wealth of guidance for handling the complex dynamics that come along with building expansive, collaborative networks.

Entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, government officials, and many others in leadership roles will find much unique, forward-thinking, highly practical insight here. While organizations are a team effort, the authors demonstrate throughout that leadership roles are too often thought of as an individual task. Don't Lead Alone turns this idea on its head, offering both inspiration and nuts-and-bolts tools for moving toward a collaborative approach.

Takeaway: This innovative leadership guide bursts with insight and practical suggestions for collaboration.

Great for fans of: Eric Coryell’s Revolutionize Teamwork, Gretchen Anderson’s Mastering Collaboration.

Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Don't Lead Alone: Think Like a System, Act Like a Network, Lead Like a Movement! by Cleveland Justis and Daniel Student is a business self-help guide to energize the way we view partnerships. Justis and Student explain the concept of their method through the metaphor of an ecosystem where the edges of a habitat are more productive and diverse. This fringe element should also apply to businesses and organizations in the way we collaborate with others outside of the insular blinkers we are so comfortable wearing. Broken down into three distinct but interconnected parts, the guide shows readers how to make meaningful, informed, actionable, and substantive progress toward leading effectively, together.

The generation that eviscerated the “because I said so” method of parenting is now middle-aged and firmly established in leadership roles. I think that Don't Lead Alone could not have come at a better time, or to a more receptive group of leaders. It may be difficult reforming an entire mindset, let alone completely overhaul an organization, but Cleveland Justis and Daniel Student provide a comprehensive map of how to get it done and what to do once you have. I like the three-stage framework of observing and thinking, building and acting, then leading. The evidence provided by way of case studies includes examples such as the success of The Presidio Council, which was made up of members who wore the hats of several sectors, and who elevated a national treasure beyond the status of a national park. What sets this book apart is its visionary mindset and approach, and I think it should be required reading for those who want more than to lead while huddling in the safety of 'the middle'. Go to the edge. Highly recommended.