Leaders come to their positions from many directions; some travel multiple leadership paths in their careers; others may choose one path early on; some change paths as they switch careers or as they become a first-time leader. Wherever you are in your leadership journey, the key insights offered in Six Paths to Leadership will help you navigate to your destination. Our six paths framework, based on ideas developed from decades of professional work and supported with more recent conversations with dozens of leaders across sectors, geographies and contexts, makes a strong case that leadership is not “one size fits all” for either the person, or for the mode of entry into the role. There are important distinctions across the six leadership paths, and understanding them may provide value for both emerging and experienced leaders. Read more about the INSIDER (promoted), the OUTSIDER (hired), the REPRESENTATIVE (elected), the PROXY (appointed), the CREATOR (founder) and the LEGACY (family). Considering the lessons from these paths will help leaders to be more effective from the first steps on their own path and the twists and turns that follow. Join us on this journey, and share your stories with us as you navigate your own path.
Six Paths to Leadership offers its readers
Critical Leadership Insights and Strategies
The paths that leaders walk significantly influence their success, offering differential opportunities and challenges. While conventional wisdom suggests that leadership styles and approaches may be equally effective across all situations, our research asserts the importance of employing strategies more specifically aligned with the leader’s context.
This book offers critical insights and strategies, currently missing from the repertoire of leaders and their supporters, for managing across six distinct paths into leadership positions: promoted (insider), hired (outsider), elected (representative), appointed (proxy), founder (creator), and family (legacy). It illustrates lessons drawn from within and across paths, presented through themes, quotes, and stories drawn from interviews with over 65 successful leaders (executives, politicians, entrepreneurs, and more). While it is evident that these paths differ, those who study, hire, mentor, and coach leaders rarely consider the distinctions, nor suggest what may be learned across the paths.
Most leaders will cross from one path to another over the course of their career. The emerging leaders, HR professionals, researchers, and coaches among this book’s readers will learn not only from those who have traveled one particular path, but also from those trekking in other directions. Some executives interviewed for the book worked their way up the ladder in one company, only to be recruited to fill a C-suite position in another company. Others were appointed to high-level government positions after stints as elected officials. Such moves reveal both commonalities and distinctions across the six paths.
As a leadership scholar and professor of leadership development, The Six Paths to Leadership blends rare insights from real leaders that are missing from the traditional books used in leadership classes. The novel and important lessons from Six Paths come through the words and stories of executives, politicians, entrepreneurs, and others. Students interested in developing their leadership competencies, as well as professors who desire to bring the “real world” of leadership into the classroom will benefit greatly from the challenges, opportunities, and strategies outlined in the book. Leadership researchers will benefit from examining the commonalities and distinctions that leaders face across contexts and the factors that contribute to those similarities and differences. Every chapter provides insights that merit additional study. This is a comprehensive compendium relevant to students, scholars and developing leaders.
As young people chart their careers and aim to hold leadership positions, it’s worth thinking about the paths people take to get there. Six Paths to Leadership describes the way leaders in both the public and private sector achieved their positions as well as the unique leadership challenges of different paths up. The stories, examples and analysis will help leaders from different sectors on their way up or transitioning to something new.
Fascinating, rich, rigorous, and applied. These words capture my reactions to The Six Paths of Leadership by Clark and Lamel. Six Paths uses academic rigor to organize and present the experiences of executives, entrepreneurs, politicians and others. What really sets Six Paths apart from other leadership books is the authors masterful use executives own words to illustrate practical and valuable lessons for a wide array of leaders from the boardroom to the classroom.
- Mel Fugate, Ph.D.
Lots of books have been written on leadership style and leadership competencies over the years. Few talk about how leaders come into their roles in the first place. Mark and Meredith makes the case that the journey more than anything else shapes leadership style. That being cognizant of others journeys as well as ones own can grow better leaders of leaders. This is an overdue perspective and changes how we construct leadership development training.
Our field has long acknowledged that leaders can take many shapes and forms, and so it is odd that—by and large—it has been assumed there is one standard path to leadership. By demonstrating, with robust and fascinating data, that there are multiple paths (at least six archetypes) with distinctive qualities and considerations, this book puts an end to the fallacy of a single approach to leadership development—and, in the process, makes the path to leadership much more accessible to a wider set of emerging leaders. One gets the sense that the authors wrote this book not for fame or fortune but rather out of a genuine desire to help support a more diverse set of potential leaders develop and ultimately succeed, and I think that is exactly what this book has the potential to do.
Exploring the journeys that shape a leader’s skills adds important and often overlooked context. Too often, aspiring leaders focus on what they must develop; this book reminds us that the how is just as important. As someone who has traveled several pathways (insider, outsider, legacy), this book caused me to reflect on how important it was to adjust my style, and my expectations, based on the way I entered the role. I’d especially recommend this to leaders embarking on a transition so they may be intentional about how they leverage the strengths of the pathway to maximize success.
- Andrew Schmidt
Contrary to popular belief, one size does not fit all for advancement to leadership positions. This book is a clear and compelling examination of the leadership paths across any organization. Mark and Meredith provide a useful and practical guide to understanding how to have success, and still be oneself. Refreshing!
- Patrick Malone
Ph.D., Director, Key Executive Leadership, American University
This is one of those rare books to keep on hand and return to frequently. Leadership is about making smart decisions and these trusted advisors provide just the right balance of theory and practice to guide you on your journey.
To get where you need to go as a leader, you have to know the road you’re on and the opportunities and pitfalls along the way. Six Paths to Leadership provides a grounded and actionable roadmap to identifying and leveraging the unique aspects of the leadership journey you’re taking.
This book includes two important paths to leadership that are often ignored but are predominant: the family (Legacy) leader and the founder (Creator). In all, the authors identify the many paths of leadership. The book is worth reading and I highly recommend it!
Meredith and Mark have done it! Finally, a leadership book that brings an understanding of context to the forefront so that the strategies and tools shared are specific, relevant, and spot on. The Six Paths to Leadership is now my own personal “go-to” guide when helping leaders onboard into new positions or build professional success plans. A must read for any leader, coach, or HR professional supporting others on their leadership journeys.
- Amy Jen Su
As an experienced HR professional, this book gives insight to those aspiring to become leaders and those who are leaders to have a clearer expectation of themselves and what the organizations are asking of them. It is a compass and guidepost to help our leaders function at their highest levels no matter how they are acquiring the title of leader.
- Darlene Slaughter
What are you waiting for?
By reading this book, leaders and those who support them will develop greater self-awareness about each path so they can better leverage and manage their new challenges and opportunities from the first day in their new leadership position. Buy this book if you are a …
- Leader (current or emerging) who wants to understand opportunities and strategies for effectiveness
- Coach developing leaders along the many paths
- HR manager responsible for career support
- Scholar seeking to understand and critique