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In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It

by Col. Thomas A. Kolditz

In this extraordinary book, Colonel Thomas Kolditz, a professor at West Point and an on-the-ground military leader, shows how extreme life-and-death leadership skills can offer profound lessons for leaders in any setting.

In a clear and compelling manner, Kolditz explains that his research on in extremis leadership situations, where followers perceive their lives to be threatened, reveals that the leadership lessons and principles in evidence in dangerous settings also apply to leading in business and everyday life. Kolditz describes a variety of high-risk situations that are ideal settings to seek and find great leaders, assess how they might be different, and glean valuable insights for extraordinary leadership in our everyday lives. Through heart-stopping real-life stories of leaders in these extreme situations, Kolditz insists that leaders at all levels can improve their effectiveness.

The book is filled with compelling in-depth interviews with such in extremis leaders as chiefs of SWAT teams, mountain-climbing guides, leaders of large-formation skydiving events, the U.S. Military Academy's national champion parachute team, and team leaders in football, wrestling, swimming, and rugby, as well as the first armored cavalry commander to roll his tanks into the fiery streets of Baghdad in 2003. Kolditz challenges us to learn from their experiences and honor their commitment and sacrifices by serving the people around us and leading as if our lives depended on it.

This authentic perspective on leadership will help cut through faddish, flavor-of-the-month leadership approaches and make anyone better at leading and being led.

In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It
Jossey-Bass , 2007
ISBN: 0787996041

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Joseph W. Pfeifer, Deputy Assistant Chief, New York City Fire Department


1. Key Characteristics of In Extremis Leaders—and How They Are Relevant in All Organizations
2. In Extremis Lessons for Business and Life: Strengthening Your Own Leadership by Example
3. The In Extremis Leadership Model: What It Is, Why It Works, and How to Use It
4. lLearning About Fear and Leadership from Dangerous Settings: Handling Emotion During In Extremis Situations
5. Leading When Tragedy Strikes: Learning to Cope with Loss
6. Building Teams That Build Leaders: An In Extremis Case Study
7. Conclusion
8. Resource: Physical Development for In Extremis Leaders
9. Notes
10. Index>
11. Acknowledgments
12. The Author

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