New Book by Kravis Professors Provides Lessons for Leaders

In their new book, The Practice of Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders (Jossey-Bass, 2007), Professors Jay Conger and Ron Riggio called on leadership experts to distill decades of research into the most important lessons on how to lead successfully. Originating from the 15th annual Kravis-de Roulet conference held on campus in February 2005, Conger and Riggio convened top scholars in particular areas of leadership, ranging from selecting and developing leaders, to leading during crises, to leading change and innovation, and leading in the executive suite and the boardroom.

“We asked foremost experts to take what they had learned about leadership from their extensive research and to translate these insights into practical guidelines for leaders,” says Conger, the Henry R. Kravis Research Professor of Leadership Studies. Each chapter surveys and summarizes critical lessons about implementing a specific leadership capability, and ends with an executive summary of takeaway messages on how to lead most successfully. For example, Conger’s own chapter on “Best Practices in Corporate Boardroom Leadership,” provides specific guidelines for constituting boards that can assume a strong leadership role, and discusses the range of boardroom leadership roles and how each can be effectively implemented.

In his foreword to the book, renowned leadership scholar Bernard M. Bass notes that there are more than 6,000 books on leadership and management published per year. “Conger and Riggio have made a significant contribution with this discriminating collection of good leadership and management practices doing the right things in the right way,” Bass states. Leadership guru Warren Bennis calls The Practice of Leadership, “simply the best single resource of readings, ideas, and practices on leadership by the best group of experts you’ll ever find in one volume.”

Ron Riggio, the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology, says that the traditional recipe for leadership books has been to provide readers a list of 10 steps–or fewer–to successful leadership. “As leaders know from their own experiences, the reality of leading is much more complex than this,” he says. “We asked our authors to wade through this complexity and distill what we know down to several suggestions of what will and won’t work.”

In the book’s final chapter, Riggio and Conger summarize four critical lessons from each of the book’s chapters. Multiplied by 14 chapters, “I guess you could call it the 56 steps to success,” Riggio says.