Whether planned or unexpected, change presents leaders with their toughest sustained challenges – regardless of the leader's seniority or the organisation's size. For many leaders, change brings drama – and the replaying of familiar stories.
In A Question of Leadership, Keith Leslie provides a wide range of illustrative case studies derived from both research and his first-hand experience in the public and private sectors as a former partner at both Deloitte and McKinsey. Each chapter first provides an engaging narrative that presents a relatable leadership dilemma, before an analysis of what works and when (often reaching seemingly counterintuitive solutions), followed by a selection of research which supports this thesis and, finally, actionable advice for leaders who find themselves in comparable circumstances (or may do so in the future).
Alongside their individual takeaways, each of these case studies are united behind an overarching thesis: the failure of many change initiatives (research shows that approx. 60-70% fail) is caused by the leader's inability to fully consider the consequences and magnitude of the situation. Whether they consider it 'just a game', or they are 'gaming the system', they often fail to recognise the full consequences of the change initiative. Across business and society, the prevalence and impacts of such short-sighted mistakes has become more overt than ever following the onset of the ongoing pandemic.
A Question of Leadership also places an emphasis upon one element of corporate leadership and change initiatives that is frequently overlooked yet more important than ever: mental health. The book provides expert advice on managing mental health (both that of the leader and their team) within stressful, high-pressure environments. This is a timely and essential guide for any business leader looking for the most effective strategies and approaches when it comes to change initiatives. Keith Leslie explores the corporate consequences of the worldwide pandemic, and analyses how leaders can adapt and improve to ensure the continued livelihood and prosperity of their organization and employees in the wake of crises.
About the Author
Keith Leslie is a leadership mentor, speaker and writer, living and working in London and Bristol. He is Chair of Samaritans in the UK & Ireland and Chair of Mental Health At Work CIC. He was previously Chair of Mental Health Foundation, and has also served as Chair of Build Africa and as a non-executive director of The Tablet Publishing Company. He has been a fellow at Windsor Leadership since 2010.
Keith began his career with Shell, working in a series of front-line and general management roles. He joined McKinsey in 1993, becoming a partner in 1998, and served clients in a wide range of industrial sectors and government. He moved to Deloitte as a partner in 2006 and retired in 2017, having focused on organization and leadership challenges at senior levels in industry and government.
Based on his experience working with senior management teams, Keith has published more than 50 articles in European Management Journal, McKinsey Quarterly, The Times, Wall Street Journal, The Tablet and many other professional journals. He also speaks regularly at conferences and development programmes for senior leaders.
“Grounded in fascinating research and practical advice, A Question of Leadership is an essential guide to compassionate and effective leadership.” —Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General, Confederation of British Industry
“Keith Leslie has produced a very timely, well written and markedly useful book about leadership. It is stuffed with clear advice and important warnings for anyone involved in leadership, and manages to combine the lessons of a practitioner with the thoughts of an intellectual.” —Keith Grint, Emeritus Professor, University of Warwick and author of 'The Arts of Leadership'
“In an age when change is relentless, and too many top leaders are blinded by ego, Keith's testimonies about what really works in leading organizations to success are most refreshing. This candid approach to mental health as a leadership issue could not be timelier.In an age when change is relentless, and too many top leaders are blinded by ego, Keith's testimonies about what really works in leading organizations to success are most refreshing. This candid approach to mental health as a leadership issue could not be timelier.” —James Lahey, Director of the Centre on Public Management and Policy, University of Ottawa
“This book convincingly explains that real leadership is about asking powerful questions and accompanying others on their journey by listening, learning and humbly promoting solidarity.” —Lord John McFall of Alcluith, Senior Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords
“A refreshingly human, grounded, nuanced guide to leading sustainable change in a complex system. Keith Leslie's decades of wisdom and experience shine through on every page.” —Caroline Webb, author of 'How to Have a Good Day' and Senior Adviser to McKinsey & Company
“A Question of Leadership provides valuable insights for leaders across all sectors, and importantly highlights how leaders can effective learn from one another.” —Lesley King-Lewis, Chief Executive, Windsor Leadership
“I commend the wisdom of a working lifetime in this book to all who seek to lead their organization through crisis to good health.” —William Storrar, Director of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ
“This is a book for our times. With skillful use of the pandemic and other stories clearly laid out, Keith Leslie guides all of us as leaders involved in change. His people-centric focus on mental health is ground-breaking.” —Lieutenant General Richard E Nugee CBE, Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy Lead, MOD
“Drawing upon examples from BigCo and Tech in North America, this book is packed with deep insight, applicable-knowledge and advice gained through real-world experience. Keith's book delivers a valuable, timely and engaging view of the problems faced by organisations as they navigate change.” —Chris Cook, VP Engineering, Navarik