IGI Global, 2013.  doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-2836-6



“Your thinking will be challenged with this book”

Reviewer: Dr. Carol Ann Sharicz, Senior Research and Teaching Fellow, Doctoral Program,      Organizational Leadership Studies, Northeastern University

This book delves into the essential dynamics inherent in both organizations and globally.  There are provocative research results and discussion that encourages all leaders to think about in order to make decisions that truly are effective and systemic in nature.  Your thinking will be challenged with this book.  They are the kinds of challenges we need in all of our organizations to both embrace and internalize what the authors refer to as “future-related leadership imperatives.”


“A treasure trove for organizational leaders and strategists”

Reviewer: Ulla de Stricker, President, de Stricker Associates, Toronto, Canada

 The professional field of organizational leadership has just received an outstanding addition in the form of a book so wide ranging it is sure to inspire anyone with an interest in being on top of the key challenges inherent in any leadership role with a global reach.  The two authors bring decades of global business experience to bear on a thoroughly researched and extremely well written "master class" covering the rapidly changing landscape of managing enterprises in a digital world.  The chapter titles tell the story of the intellectual breadth of the work:  Leadership;  Dynamic Leadership Process; Organizational Contexts; Complexity and Organizational Learning; Sustainability; Socio-Digital Technologies; Knowledge Management; Innovation; Generational Demographics; Leadership, Global Business, and Digitally Connected Environments.  (Note:  Each chapter is available individually for purchase from the publisher; the first few pages may be previewed.).


 Anyone currently in a leading or business strategy role - or aspiring to such a role - would do well to use the book, immediately, as a foundation for reflection and deepening of understanding and, as time goes on, as a trusted companion to be consulted in the context of changing circumstances.  Together, the chapters add up to a mosaic of thoughtful coverage of the influences, considerations, challenges, complexities, and uncertainties leaders must confront and incorporate in their thinking and decision making.  As the authors state in the first chapter:  "We have assembled this book as if the reader is wandering around the outside of a fence that encloses an unfamiliar building site … [glimpsing] … activities (a subsystem) associated with erecting the whole edifice (the system) … at one point the ground is being excavated; at another place cement is being poured; and here a framework of girders is being erected, … in some places the work is being impacted by peripheral events such as the contour of the ground, inclement weather, or industrial action."  The analogy is apt:  Organizational leadership and strategic business planning is indeed a work in progress being affected constantly by powerful new forces (huge demographic shifts, globalization, political and economic uncertainty, and cultural change being just a few).  As the book illustrates in every chapter, these forces push leaders into a constant process of adapting to the evolving world while reengineering the nature of leadership in a digitally dominated environment.


With particular skill in summarizing the scholarly research, the authors describe in each chapter the key developments leading up to the current state of affairs, provide case studies, and discuss the outlook.  Those engaged in teaching and mentoring tomorrow's leaders have a one-stop cornucopia of references to the collective intellectual capital of respected authorities in the disciplines surrounding the topics covered.  It is particularly gratifying for this knowledge management focused reviewer to see in Chapter 7 a thorough examination of the field informed by great sensitivity to the human factors determining the success of KM initiatives and practices.


The title does not do justice to wealth and depth of knowledge woven together  - but then again, it would be impossible to construct any title living up to such a task.  What matters is that the reader's attention to and focus on the intellectual capital in the book will be richly rewarded.


The theme is absolutely appropriate and very ‘hot’ in our times”

Reviewer:  Prof. Haris Papoutsakis, Technological Educational Institution (TEI) of Crete, Greece

The leadership models, proposed by Peter Smith and Tom Cockburn in "Dynamic Leadership Models for Global Business: Enhancing Digitally Connected Environments", appeared to me –probably to a greater extend, due to my origin–, as their answer to the “dark side of leader­ship” “toxic” or not– and the number of corporate scandals (p. 2) that have marked the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. Drawing on both theory and practice the authors generously offer, to cur­rent and aspiring leaders, a dynamic foundation for understanding and practicing leadership, based on proven ways to deal with complexity, which can be suc­cessfully applied by them to leadership roles they may acquire.


Before going on with my review, I would like to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the book. First, the theme is absolutely appropriate and very ‘hot’ in our times. Second, I was impressed by the exhaustive literature review and in-depth practitioner know-how that has formed the base upon which the book presents a detailed overview and discussion of present and future trends on global, dynamic leadership in today’s digitally connected world. Third, the fact that each chapter contains a practical case study appropriate to its topic that genuinely aids in locat­ing the information relevant to the reader’s own practice. In regards to weaknesses, and despite the fact that I have been teaching SWOT analysis for the last twenty seven years, I have to say that I did not find any. 


Issues related to leadership are presented in Chapter One. All the current definitions of leadership together with the various new leadership thinking, attitudes and competencies are clearly presented in the first chapter. In a professional and academic framework, leadership is examined and defined, amongst others, as Motivation and Influence, as a System of Authority, as a Set of Roles and simply as Management (p. 5-6).


A highly practical leadership process for leaders to adopt, regardless of their leadership style, organizational level, functional specialism or business sector, together with a very interesting assessment instrument are provided in Chapter Two. This process may de adopted, by the reader, as part of an existing leadership development program or as a standalone individual initiative. The proposed dynamic leadership models, in Chapter Two, encourage reflection on one’s leadership role, and the emergent balance and alignment of collective Focus, Will and Capability in various fields based on experimentation.


Despite the trend to consider leaders embedded in a community context, the authors in this book and particularly in Chapters Three and Four consider leaders in organi­zational contexts significantly affected by the use of tools like Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, and mobile technologies. Furthermore, they consider above technologies, together with social network­ing, an increasing feature of their daily life. Considering the immense flow of new knowledge, through the above sources, the authors even propose “unlearning” (subtracting the old and substituting the new sets of integrated core beliefs, operating values attitudes and knowledge) as the way organi­zations may very well change and innovate (p. 109). Building upon their experiences with TLA, the two authors propose a com­bined IP/S methodology that provides the stakeholder design-team with a solid base for moving ahead with their system development. Interactive Planning (IP) assumes that the digitally connected community is a multi-purpose system, and that the planning process should take into account the objectives of all stakeholders. And Syntegration (S) is considered by the authors as an ideal front-end companion for IP, addressing the need for improved integration of information, opportunities for tapping and build­ing upon distributed knowledge, and the nurturing of collective vision and commitment.


The issue of sustainable development and the various definitions of sustainability are extensively discussed in Chapter Five. Although sustainability is viewed by the authors as “the elephant in the room” for most private, public or social organizations (p. 136), a number of practical initiatives are made available for successfully embarking on a “Triple Bottom Line” sustainability journey. “Triple Bottom Line” sustainability, according to the authors, addresses the harmonizing of three critical elements of the sustainability system: economic viability, social justice, and environmental preservation. As they amply demonstrate in the Sustainability cases described in this chapter, business organizations can sustain their viability and profitability whilst on the sustainability journey – indeed they may become more viable and profitable.


In Chapter Six, the authors analyze the way organizations of all kinds, and their leaders at every level, have already been impacted significantly by socio-digital technology. They portray, in a very clear way, how digitization, web 2.0, mobile technologies, social networks, the ‘cloud’, and the impact of ‘virtuality’ allied to shifting centers of decision-making power globally, impact business, government, and educational environments, including how the coinciding interests of these important communities are being addressed in this new, socio-digital environment. Two significant side effects are given proper attention: The ‘netocracy’ – hypothesis or threat ...? – based upon the elite’s control of information and knowledge access on the web, and the ‘shifting values’ on work-life balance that have become more evident in this emerging, socio-digital and globalized 24/7 world.


In Chapter Seven the authors thoroughly examine the fundamentals of Knowledge Management (KM) and Intellectual Capital (IC), as they are considered very basic for the theme of the book. They combine KM and IC with organizational culture –a critical factor in the successful development of KM in organizations – and in particular they state that culture impacts significantly how organizational members learn, acquire, and share knowledge (p. 188). Starting with Drucker’s ‘knowledge society’ –that radically changed what creates value in organizations (p. 171) –, the authors clearly highlight the additional benefits derived when an organization explores its strategic options in a more dynamic fashion as part of a Systemic Knowledge Management approach (p. 178). The two authors complete their analysis with a brief presentation of the three subsystems that are fundamental to any KM system – ‘knowledge architecture’, ‘technology infrastructure’ and ‘people and culture’–, emphasizing on the importance of organizational learning and sense-making for successful KM. Finally, the rise of knowledge-oriented information technologies –such as SCM, CRM, ERP, ERP II, and Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, mobile technologies, and social media– is considered and the most recent ones are reviewed (p. 188-9).


In Chapter Eight, the authors, triggered by the rather obvious assumption that organizations globally must expect severe competition for at least the next decade, look into innovation as the process that adds value and novelty to an existing product or service. But with the true belief that innovation will not be the same for all organizations: innovation today must involve social knowledge alongside the technological knowledge to make innovation meaningful (p. 202). They also highlight the difference between ‘innovation’ orientation –practiced by the ‘market pioneers’, i.e. firms with a strategy of developing and introducing innovative new products or services into the market before their competitors– and ‘imitation’ orientation, practiced by the ‘followers’, i.e. firms that try to avoid the excessive costs associated with basic scientific investigation and the development of novel technologies, and adopt competitor’s ideas and technology (p. 204). Furthermore, the authors examine in detail the practical role of Communities of Innovation (CoInv) –as a distinct form of Communities of Practice (CoP) that leverage the appropriate capabilities of CoP–, but are very specifically dedicated to the support and holistic management of innovation in a way that it includes idea generation, commercialization, and realization.


In Chapter Nine, the authors are dealing with a rather recent leadership problem. Organizations, in the 21st century, face the challenges of adopting human resource strategies appropriate to the four generational demographics groups of their employees: the Traditional/Silent Generation (66-83 years), the Baby Boomers (48-65 years), the Gen Xers (30-47 years) and the Gen Y/Millennial (13-29 years). Each of these groups has distinctly different values, attitudes to work, degree of inclusion, communication preferences, rules, authority, work ethic, and beliefs about the organization. The authors, in this chapter, also tackle issues of decentralization, changing demographics and a perceived need for greater cultural as well as functional fluency that are of significant importance to the iconic American and European companies that have dominated the economic world order for the past several decades and are now ceding ground to an increasingly influential set of emerging market “champions.” Under this perspective, the authors urge global companies to forge more diverse management teams able to understand the opportunities and the challenges the business faces in its current and future markets.


In Chapter Ten the two authors illustrate, particularly in regard to digitally connected environments, that leadership is crucially concerned with not only understanding but communicating the organization’s vision, including the impact and leverage associated with emerging technology. Chapter Ten expands on the Focus, Will and Capability model –presented in Chapter Two, examines the critical characteristics of leadership in digitally connected environments and adds practical supportive detail. The authors explore in detail the current and emerging drivers of global business and present a very useful assessment instru­ment –in Figures 2 (p. 262) and 4 (p. 265) to help readers assess their readiness to lead in digitally enhanced and connected global business contexts.


Overall and upon concluding my review, I strongly believe that this volume provides an in depth analysis of each and every problem that cur­rent and aspiring leaders will face in today’s global and digitally connected business environment. The quality of both the theoretical and empirical frameworks utilized in the various chapters of the book is extremely high. This is a well informed book which informs and illuminates an important area of research and practice for those interested in the role that leadership plays in today’s global, turbulent but digitally connected business environment.


“This book provides practical advice for managing multiple challenges and complex business systems in a tough global business environment”

Reviewer: Assoc. Prof. Julie Cogin, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales

Dynamic Leadership Models for Global Business: Enhancing Digitally Connected Environments by Peter Smith and Tom Cockburn comes at just the right time. As leaders face uncertainty in all aspects of work life this book provides practical advice for managing multiple challenges and complex business systems in a tough global business environment.


The book provides a bridge between scholarly research and practice. It goes beyond summarising a limited set of research findings (as many leadership books do) to practically outlying important implications for leaders. It is filled with numerous case studies and thought-provoking questions that provide new insights and ideas for managing the complexity of today’s workplace.


The majority of contemporary leadership research does not address challenges brought on by the GFC or rapid technological advancements and subsequently has failed to provide relevant recommendations for leaders, who need to adapt to these changes. This book addresses this important gap in the leadership literature. As the authors correctly point out, leading styles and skills that worked in stable predictable times are inadequate in an uncertain environment filled with swift change.


Most leadership books provide a recipe for success, a ‘one size fits all’ approach or make prescriptions for learning to be a leader. Refreshingly, this book is based on the notion of ‘leaders learning to learn’.  As a result, the book equips the reader to build their own models or frameworks, relevant to the context they operate in. This approach develops competence in solving problems, rather than finding a solution to a specific problem. The learning journey begins in chapter two which introduces a four-step incremental leadership process based on a rigorous review of existing theory. A fundamental pre-requisite to the model is reflection, refection on what needs to be achieved, what has taken place, and what could be done better in the future.


The remaining chapters review relevant topics to the current business environment as well as provide multiple examples to support readers to learn from the experiences of others. Specific topic areas include organisational strategy and configuration (structure, culture), complexity and systems, sustainability, socio-digital technologies, knowledge management, innovation and generational demographics.


The structure of the book enables the reader to move to the relevant chapter to gain an update and review of the topic as well as implications for leadership. When partnered with the learning model in chapter two, insights and actions become clear.


“This is a valuable book to own as a guidebook, reference manual and practical tool”

Reviewer: Dr. Melinda M. Muth, Director, HCA Philanthropy, S idney, Australia

The topic of leadership is widely researched and written about yet readers often remain none the wiser for it.  The shifting definitions of leadership and constant new theories on the vital characteristics of leaders can make it difficult to apply the knowledge in a beneficial way.  The authors of Dynamic Leadership Models for Global Business:  Enhancing Digitally Connected Environments have made a significant contribution to making sense of what Nohria and Khurana (2010) describe as a “vast and sprawling field with no clear contours or boundaries.”  The authors have done a first rate job as content curators.  Their book is both comprehensive and practical.


Any reader who wants to understand the history of leadership research and the strongest contributions to the literature on the topic would do well to read this book.  The information on leadership is made practical with a step-by-step guide for its use along with a personal evaluation and self-coaching tool.  The book is set out in a clear and logical structure, which is consistent and easy to follow.  The structure allows the reader to build a useful context for skill development and then hone in on major topic areas such as sustainability, technology and generational differences. 


The first two chapters draw heavily on academic research and use models and diagrams from that research to help the reader understand and organise priorities.  The selection of topics in chapters 3-9 is a contribution in itself because the authors have managed to inform and sort the complexity of issues facing leaders into useful themes without confusing the topics with skill development.   These chapters do not have to be read in a linear sequence.   Once the reader has been through the first two chapters, the succession of current environmental factors facing leaders can be covered based on personal priority.


This is a valuable book to own as a guidebook, reference manual and practical tool for anyone interested in the subject of leadership including those who coach and mentor emerging leaders.