Book Review – Leadership U, Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve, Gary Burnison

Those that know me well, know I am “geeked out” by literature.  My current passion is leadership material owing to the training sessions we are currently working on.  Recently someone asked me for some books to read so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts through this blog.

Leadership U was briefly mentioned during a drop in session with the Training Designers Club so I thought I’d take a look. 

Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry, a global organisational consultancy firm and author.

The main thread of this book is that leadership is not about you, it’s about others.  It’s about inspiring others to believe, and then enabling that belief to become a reality. Gary talks about the 6 stages of career development being:

  • Follower – your first job out of school / college being action oriented and task focussed.
  • Collaborator – using your technical skills and develop collaboration skills from peers.
  • Instructor – a first time leader tapering your people skills as you start to give instructions to your team.
  • Manager – building your skills through managing larger teams with bigger goals and objectives.
  • Influence – transitioning away from managing a team to influencing people, especially those who do not report directly to you.
  • Leader – where you spend much of your time empowering and empowering others, you’re not telling them what to do, but what to think about.

This map resounding well with me as I reflected on my career from admin apprentice to senior leader.

Gary goes on to explain the six degrees of leadership:

  1. Anticipate – what lies ahead
  2. Navigate – course correcting in real time
  3. Communicate – continually
  4. Listen – to what you don’t want to hear
  5. Learn – fail fast, learn faster
  6. Lead – be all in, all of the time

“If you aren’t humble, you’re probably not self-aware, if you’re not self-aware, you’ll never learn, grow or improve.”

Gary urges his readers to think about their strengths as weaknesses:

  • Traits – their behaviours, natural tendencies and abilities
  • Drivers – their motivations, values, and what is important to them.
  • Competencies – that they’re proficient at
  • Experiences – the sum total of their accomplishments

This book was not only an easy read, but motivational and inspired me look at my own leadership style and how my team are progressing.

Reference: Book | Leadership U: Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve (

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