Flexible Leadership: Creating Value by Balancing Multiple Challenges and Choices, (2004).

Author:Chandler, Frances
Position:Book review

Flexible Leadership: Creating Value by Balancing Multiple Challenges and Choices, (2004) Gary Yukl and Richard Lespinger, John Wiley and Sons, 288 p.

University administrators know that each participant in the research cycle has a pivotal role to play in the success or failure of a project. I know this too. As a Program Officer who dispensed funds, a Research Coordinator who spent funds, and now a mediator between the two as Associate Director of an Office of Research Services, I am aware that each person has a unique opportunity to diminish or enhance cutting edge research. I also know that questionable leadership exhibited by any of these players can be as damaging to a project as questionable science.

Yukl and Lepsinger (2004) make this point clear in their book, Flexible Leadership: Creating Value by Balancing Multiple Challenges and Choices. They suggest that leaders from all levels are pivotal to individual and organizational performance. As part of a complex system of interactions occurring over time, they must balance competing demands while assessing the impact that each decision has on those individuals with whom they interact. Rather than seeing themselves as arbitrators of rules and regulations, Yukl and Lepsinger believe that excellent leaders know when to follow, collaborate, alter course, or concede.

They discuss their views by organizing their book into three major sections, each relating to their model of flexible leadership. Comprised of a total of 12 chapters, this book begins with The Nature of Effective Leadership. As an introduction, this chapter describes various types of leaders and the myths associated with each. It lays the foundation for the remainder of the text by providing a brief overview of their model including a diagram consisting of four concentric circles radiating from a small inner core.

This inner circle, organizational effectiveness, is surrounded by another that is divided into three pieces, application and innovation, efficiency and reliability, and human resources and relations. The third circle is sliced into six and each relates to a particular leadership behavior or system that impacts on an organization. The outer ring entitled situational factors, is not subdivided and is placed there to signify the importance the authors attribute to the role that context or environment plays on any organization.

The ensuing 10 chapters are divided into four sections. The first section relates to the circles...

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