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SHIFTING CONTEXT by Linda Alepin

SHIFTING CONTEXT

Leadership Springs from Within

by Linda Alepin & Barbara Key

Publisher: Manuscript

Inspiring stories of women, and some men, who exemplify principles of modern leadership.

Alepin and Key both have extensive experience studying and teaching leadership as well as heading organizations themselves, including the education program Women Leaders for the World, and it shows. Together, they share their wisdom in an intriguing blend of business book and self-help guide. The text is organized thematically into six parts; each comprises three or four stories of women—such as Mary Burns, the co-founder of the Kasimu Education Fund in Malawi, and Diti Mookherjee, the CEO of the Association for Social and Environmental Development in India—with a few stories of men interspersed. All took part in the WLW program, and many rose to much larger accomplishments than they’d ever dreamed. The leaders profiled are shown to be making impressive strides to address crucial social issues—involving environmental stewardship, poverty, sex trafficking, education, and healthcare, and other things—in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Mexico, and Nepal, as well as the United States. Each chapter ends with “Appreciative Inquiry Questions to Ponder,” presented in a “four Ds” format that aims to “Discover” the best of what is, “Dream” of what might be, “Design” what should be, and “Deliver” what will be by taking a simple step towards the goal. Readers will likely find the format and the questions to be useful as they aim to forge their own paths as leaders. A brief concluding section, “The Never-Ending Journey to Becoming,” sums up key concepts. Although the primary focus is on leadership for women, readers of any gender will find a wealth of useful ideas in these pages. The work differs from other, similar advice books by focusing on listening and questioning, on community-building, and on self-confidence and self-compassion. The co-authors’ use of the pronoun with parentheticals (“I (Linda) founded a nonprofit…”; “I (Barbara) attended a one-day seminar…”) sometimes feels odd, and their occasional use of the term sheroes is awkward. Overall, though, their candid, personal tone helps to reinforce their message about what it takes to be a truly effective leader.

An earnest and engaging leadership manual.