Appreciative Leaders: In the Eye of the Beholder
Edited by Marge Schiller, Bea Mah Holland, and Deanna Riley
Taos Institute Publications, 2001
Price: $19.95 US plus shipping and handling
Paperback, 184 pages
This 200-page volume presents a model of Appreciative Leadership based on twenty-eight interviews, fifteen of which are included in the book. This small but comprehensive sample reveals the outstanding characteristics of appreciative leaders and their predominant behavioral attributes. The ways appreciative leaders engage in their daily practices are outlined in detail. "This is a landmark book, " according to Jane Watkins, an originator of Appreciative Inquiry. "It is an invaluable contribution to the literature that addresses the critically important question: What kinds of leaders will shape the radically different organizations called for by our constantly changing environment?" Appreciative Inquiry leader, David Cooperrider writes, "Appreciative modes of management may be to our new self-organizing systems what deficit or problem-oriented methods have been to command-and -control bureaucracies."
"When one begins to read the book Appreciative Leaders, it is clear very early that the point of compiling these stories is to begin understanding how appreciative leaders lead, how they appreciate, inquire, and construct meaningful relationships with those they lead. What strikes the reader is the wide diversity among these leaders, the multiple paths, distinct styles of leadership, and approaches to those they lead. At the same time, it is amazing how congruent they are about key principles, values and visions.
This reader found so much that seemed valuable to my circle of family, friends and colleagues. Thomas Inui's comment:
"Work is a bitch. There is so much about it that is hard. If you really don't want to be doing what you're doing, it isn't going to work. So think about it three times. If what you want to do really expresses you and your heart, then let's talk about how it might be possible to make it work."
...seemed to be an important idea for young people charting the beginning of their careers, adults in career transitions, and newly retired individuals choosing new paths of work and service.
Reading Chapter Five, "Lessons of a Lifetime", the learning was that "lifetime leaders" had a focus on the well being and development of individuals they lead and/or people in their collaborative relationships. I found myself hoping that many school administrators of my acquaintance would read this information -- in fact I began to think about how I could distribute this book to them.
The book's concluding chapter, with its leadership model encompassing world view, practices, and values connected by the roles of catalyst and relationshipper, seems to be a really interesting emergent picture of the leaders we need for now, not then."
-- Joyce Lemke, Positive Change Corps an Agent of Benefit and retired Senior School Administrator,
"In this very readable book the editors present the theory and practice of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) for the practitioner to immediately use. The fruitfulness and promise of AI come to life in the unfolding stories from a wide range of organizational fields. The stories each had various aspects that resonate for me in how to lead from the positive frame. For me, the Appreciative Leader creates clarity of theory, principles, and concepts while strongly anchoring and grounding them in the real life work of leading and following from the positive and strengths-based approach. The success and flow of AI as a way of life and leading and doing jump out at you even when the stories get you in the trenches and even into the day-to-day minutiae of work and the hard stuff that drags you down and can move you to that negative place. In reading and re-reading the book, I find myself saying ³Oh, I've seen someone do that² or ³I do that² which connects the reader to the theory and principles written about in the Appreciative Leader.
The sections on the AI Principles provide one of the strongest explanations of what the Principles are, how they work, and how they relate to the research. The editors¹ thorough descriptions and explanations of the principles establish a foundation for making them more meaningful. The AI Principles are much clearer to me through reading this section.
The Appreciative Leader is a must have book for your AI library! This book sets the big picture of leading through appreciative inquiry. As a high school principal this book set me on my journey of intentional Appreciative leadership and an affirmation of my leadership strengths. I just wish that I had discovered it earlier in my career and met sooner the colleagues who are also on the same journey."
-- Dr. Elaine Sullivan
Florida Principal of the Year award -1998
State Principal of Year for Florida - 1997
Commission of Education Outstanding Educational Leader Award - 1997