"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: Hot Leaders Cool Facilitators by Bart R. Wendell, PhD.

Hot Leaders Cool Facilitators:  Learning to Lead One Meeting at a Time
Author:  Bart R. Wendell, PH.D.
Copyright:  2010
Publisher:  Networlding Publishing
Genre:  Business
Includes:  Table of Contents, Tables, Diagrams, End Note: The Enneagram
Pages:  162
Source:  Complimentary review copy provided by the author

About this book: "Discover what great leaders know about meetings from a trusted advisor to CEOs and boards.  Meetings are leadership laboratories, intense microcosms in which the leader's style and substance are uniquely on public display.  Once someone has convened a meeting, his leadership will never be the same again,.  This book is about how leaders can consciously use meetings to develop their executive skills from good to great." (from the back cover)

My review: 
Bart Wendell, in his book Hot Leaders Cool Facilitators, discusses types of leaders in regards to how they lead.  Do they lead from the gut, the head or the heart?  Can they lead with a combination thereof?  By identifying how a person deals with conflict, rallies the troops, or conducts a meeting, it can be determined how best to utilize strengths.  In doing so, weaknesses, like backing down if another becomes "hot" (heated, argumentative), can be turned around to better advantage while lessening confrontation and allowing everyone the freedom to address issues. This book is about creating better leaders by teaching them how to conduct better meetings.

"Shifting Gears to Cool Down"
"Race-car drivers know that there are times when they can negotiate a particular corner on the racetrack in less time by entering the corner at a slower, more deliberate speed, and then increasing speed through the turn.  Similarly, great meeting leaders know that downshifting allows each participant to take a process check and provides everyone the perspective and objectivity that reduces intensity.  Rather than simply pausing, switching gears and slowing the pace of discussion allows time for reflection and sets the stage for divergent points of view to surface.  What feels like a detour can often be the quickest route to the finish line, by slowing the discussion, the leader can actually speed the progress of the group."~ page 76

I found this book to be insightful.  As I read of varying scenarios I could recognize different leadership traits in people I know.  I also recognized myself.  Hot Leaders Cool Facilitators is a great tool in developing leadership abilities as it helps the reader identify characteristics of good leadership, how to shift focus, keep a group on track,and maintain order while allowing the people to have a voice.  The teachings within are priceless.  Whether you run meetings at work, attend town hall meetings, write an editorial to a newspaper, or lead your children, there are numerous scenarios wherein we may utilize the lessons Bart Wendell teaches in Hot Leaders Cool Facilitators. 

Not strictly for the boardroom, Hot Leaders Cool Facilitators is a great resource.  It is not a fast read because the principles discussed deserve pondering and practice.  Every business student should use this book!

Rated 4.5/5

About the author:

Bart R. Wendell, PH.D. is a business consultant and psychologist.  A master facilitator and trusted adviser, his clients have included The International Monetary Fund, PBS, NPR, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Fidelity Investments, The Ford Foundation, The United States Air Force Academy, and Rock Tenn, and he is a past seminar instructor at The Harvard Business School Executive Leadership Program.

Author Interview:
1. Why did you decide to write this particular book?

I find meetings fascinating and ripe with great possibilities. It’s frustrating to watch potentially great leaders display such incompetence and sap so much energy from their organizations during meetings. Just like parents get practically no preparation for parenting, leaders get no practical preparation for what good leadership looks like in meetings. I felt that the mental road map I use could be very useful.

2. How is this book different from others on the market focused on your area of expertise?

My book answers the question, ‘What does great organizational leadership specifically look like in meetings?
This books is intended to fill a middle ground between books that focus on the basic mechanics of meeting management such as airtime and parking lots, and those that focus on theories of organizational leadership.

3. What are the top three benefits for people reading your book?

They will: 
-Have a road map to make sense out of bad meetings.
-Understand how to take the steps to save such a bad meeting from itself.
-Better understand themselves and others so that they can use this road map and understanding in time to display leadership before the meeting ends.

4. What one story can you share that is a sort of signature story for your book?

It’s a personal story about how managing temperature can lead to great success as well as crashing failure. I was asked to design and lead a meeting between the presidents and board chairs of the four major organizations in public broadcasting, including PBS and NPR. This had never happened before because of tensions between organizations and between individuals that had built over 35 years. Gathered around the table were a former governor, a former ambassador and so on. I had to bring enough heat, enough drive for results, to the situation to convince these folks that results were possible while also bringing enough cool, enough pausing for perspective and analysis, that worthwhile decisions got made.

The first meeting was a great success in spite of everyone’s doubts coming in and led to regular meetings known as the ‘G-4′. I lead these meetings over a period of years until one particular moment when I failed to summon enough heat to push back on one of the players. He had summarily suggested we no longer needed the ground rules that had been so painstakingly constructed. My failure to do so undermined my leadership and it was the last of that particular series of meetings I was asked to lead.

The book is a lessons learned from that and other experiences, told through stories and analysis.

5. What will a reader do differently once he or she has read your book?
The reader will: 
-Never take for granted the impact of any meeting on their leadership.
-Know where to place their focus in a meeting that is in trouble, whether they’re in front of the room or simply at the table.

Bart R. Wendell, PH.D.
Trusted Advisor and Facilitator to Executives and Boards.
Author of ‘Hot Leaders, Cool Facilitators: Learning To Lead One Meeting At A Time
(NetWorlding Leadership Series: 2010)

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