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Humble Leadership


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Bestselling author and father of organizational behavior, Edgar Schein and Peter Schein trail-blaze with a creative perspective on leadership that encourages vulnerability and empathy as a form of strength.

About the Author

Edgar H. Schein is professor emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. Peter A. Schein is the cofounder and COO of the Organizational Culture and Leadership Institute.


2018 Silver Nautilus Award Winner in the Business & Leadership category.

"This is the key book for the new age of human organizations. It ought to be compulsory reading for anyone who is given charge of any operation."
-Charles Handy, author of The Second Curve

"The future will reward humility and punish arrogance. Ed and Peter Schein show us both the power and the strength of humble leadership. This book
is an antidote to arrogance and a practical guide to making the future."
-Bob Johansen, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future, and author of The New Leadership Literacies

"This book outlines the pathway to a culture of cooperation and trust and the leadership needed to create this. If you take it seriously, Humble Leadership is the only book on management that you will ever need."
-Peter Block, author of Stewardship and Flawless Consulting and coauthor of An Other Kingdom

"Humility may be the modern leader's most important attribute. In a complex, dynamic world, humility is simply realism. This powerful and thoroughly engaging book delivers the wisdom of Edgar Schein's half century of research and practice dedicated to helping organizations and those who manage them. Its authors-a pioneering organizational scholar and his son-embody humility as they describe its power in transforming organizations. Compelling case studies clarify the humble leadership approach and make it actionable."
-Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School

"Effective leadership is all about building trust and relationships. With Humble Leadership, Ed and Peter help us to actually get there by understanding relationships on a much more granular and tangible level."
-Severin Schwan, CEO Roche Group

"In an era of national cynicism and dismay, this call for empathy, trust, and collaboration is a timely breath of fresh air with relevance for leaders at all levels."
-Lucian Leape, Adjunct Professor of Health Policy (retired), Harvard School of Public Health

"In focusing on 'levels of relationships,' the book explains how...emerging leaders can succeed by interacting with peers and those reporting to them in ways that are in stark contrast to the coercive and 'bad behaviors' we are currently hearing about. Ed and Peter Schein offer them an alternative and far superior approach to leadership-one based on cooperative relationships with others that emphasize trust and respect and, in turn, lead to stronger and more effective organizations."
-Robert A. Cooke, author of Human Synergistics' Organizational Culture Inventory

"For those in the health-care world who face the challenge of leading organizations with layers of administrative and clinical complexity, this book offers a path to success. Humble leadership, as the authors remind us, though, is no mere philosophy. It is a result of disciplined attention to structure, culture, and relationships. The Scheins offer a persuasive road map to achieve this understanding and true effectiveness in institutional settings."
-Paul F. Levy, former CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and author of Goal Play!

"Edgar and Peter Schein's new book, Humble Leadership, builds on decades of study focused on organizational culture and leadership. They articulate the criticality of leadership in successful organizations and the strong correlation of relationships that go beyond the transactional with successful leaders and successful organizations. This is a must read for reflective leaders at all levels seeking to enhance their effectiveness and execution in pursuit of their organizational mission and vision."
-Gary S. Kaplan MD, Chairman and CEO, Virginia Mason Health System, Chair Lucian Leape Institute

"Edgar and Peter Schein have built on a series of previous informative books such as Helping and Humble Inquiry with their new book, Humble Leadership. The insights into the importance of relationships and building an atmosphere of openness and trust are helpful to all leaders. I believe it is particularly informative for those in health care, dealing with the marked technical and operational complexities."
-Lane F. Donnelly, MD, Chief Quality Officer, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, and Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine

"Humble Leadership introduces a new model for leadership that supports effectiveness in a rapidly changing world where leaders and their followers are being driven by deeply entrenched cultural norms. The timeless insights about relationships, personizing, group process, and culture will help every leader."
-Tim Kuppler, Director of Culture and Organization Development, Human Synergistics, and cofounder of CultureUniversity.com

"The book offers a deeply human approach to leadership that is attuned to the staggering complexity, rapid change, and uncertainty facing anyone aiming to make a difference in today's world. Written as a joint project by Ed Schein and his son Peter, Humble Leadership is a way of being a leader that does not rely on transactional power, but on the relational power that comes from trust, openness and collaboration. Illustrated with rich case examples from the Schein's extensive practices as organizational consultants and exercises to develop leadership capacities of one's own, the book has the ring of authenticity that comes from the hearts of people who have walked the walk."
-Maureen O'Hara, Founding Fellow, International Futures Forum; Professor, National University; and coauthor, with Graham Leicester, of Dancing at the Edge

"Leadership is a socio-technical process, but most leaders have only been prepared for the technical dimension; despite their best intentions, their performance and that of their teams and organizations falls short. Humble Leadership aims squarely at this problem - how to attend to the social dimension - and hits a bull's-eye. This compact and lively volume shows why organizations cannot thrive on impersonal interactions, but instead require higher-order relationships that engender trust and honest conversation. Presenting fundamental principles and many instructive examples, it also provides very practical guidance about how to establish such relationships. Readers from my industry, healthcare, will find described in this book exactly the leadership practices that are needed backstage to achieve patient-centered or relationship-centered care on the front lines. This is going to be a very impactful book!"
-Anthony L. Suchman, MD, MA, Senior Consultant, Relationship Centered Health Care

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