Book Reviews

The Leader’s Edge

by By Charles J. Palus and David M. Horth

Reviewed by Brian L. Benzel
Superintendent, Spokane, Wash., Public Schools

The school leader seeking to extend understanding and knowledge into how to create a learning organization will find new insight, challenge and opportunity in the creative approach developed in The Leader’s Edge.

Building on their work with the Center for Creative Leadership, co-authors Charles J. Palus and David M. Horth craft a framework for moving from complexity to understanding by applying six attributes of creative leaders. What they call their “sense-making loop” will stimulate school leaders to think systemically about their mission and how it can be accomplished.

The authors crafted the sense-making loop from their study of leaders in a variety of settings. By first paying attention to the patterns in our experience, they say, we can focus our personalized passion and interests on our professional endeavors. Using strategies of imaging, serious play and collaborative inquiry, creative leaders enhance their capacity to craft workable and effective actions to achieve their mission.

When read in concert with Peter Senge’s work on systems thinking, The Leader’s Edge adds depth, enrichment and specific strategies for leadership development. Sharing the experiences of numerous leaders, this work creates an outline for using the structure of science and the passion of art to enhance the quality of our life and work.

Building on the linkage between the scientific method and artistic capabilities, Palus and Horth encourage us to grapple with issues at the boundaries of disciplines that too often are separately taught and practiced. They challenge conventional leadership thinking.

(The Leader’s Edge: Six Creative Competencies for Navigating Complex Challenges by Charles J. Palus and David M. Horth, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2002, 277 pp. with index, $29.95 hardcover)