The Leadership Lab: Understanding Leadership in the 21st Century

Author – Chris Lewis and Pippa Malmgren
Book discussed – 23 July 2019
Review by – Mae Keary and Lisa Preuveneers

This book sets out to revalue modern leadership, by offering insights into the new skills required to replace an analytical and economic approach with a more balanced one.  Their investigation identifies hidden inefficiencies and growing disillusionment with leadership. Stating that it is time to develop a better understanding of the world by acquiring ‘situational fluency’ – seeing facts in a wider perspective, which could provide leaders with additional knowledge and understanding that come from joining things up.  

The authors created the Lewis Advisory Boards to take soundings and to listen to leader’s views worldwide, from which they gained a wider perspective on global leadership, and an understanding of both tactics and strategy.  To analyse the mass of data collected they developed a thinking tool called ‘Kythera’, which shows both progressive and reciprocal negative effects that change creates.  In Chapters 1 – 7, they use these criteria to analyse imbalances in leadership thinking; in Chapter 8 all aspects are coalesced to come to an understanding of the 21st Century; Chapter 9 analyses the fundamentally paradoxical nature of change and how to embrace it.  

 A book of contrasts that is stimulating to read and a challenge to put into practice.  It aims to liberate the potential for change, but not to impede those who are not willing or unable to participate.  It is critical to the way leaders think and perceive the world around them and the challenges they face, but it provides helpful answers to those willing to apply new skills.  A thoughtful and perceptive book.

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