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The Prepared Leader summary

Erika H. James and Lynn Perry Wooten

Emerge from Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before

4.4 (258 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

The Prepared Leader by Erika H. James and Lynn Perry Wooten is a leadership book that focuses on developing and enhancing leadership skills through emotional intelligence, resilience, and strategic thinking. It provides practical advice on how to navigate complex challenges and lead effectively in an ever-changing world.

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    The Prepared Leader
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    Humans aren’t great at preparing for future crises, which is why we need to hone specific skills.

    The COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise, right? Well, maybe not everyone. There were journalists, scientists, and epidemiologists who’d been warning us for decades that a viral worldwide pandemic was likely to happen. But, in the end, most of us weren’t prepared. While it’s hard to add up the cost, in both human and economic terms, some economists have suggested that the pandemic could end up as a $12 trillion loss. In 2020 alone, labor income losses totaled $3.7 trillion.

    It’s true that we could have done a better job of heeding the warning signs, but it’s also true that human beings are simply ill-suited to preparing for future crises.

    In the simplest terms, human evolution has caused us to prioritize the dangers that are here and now over the possibility of future threats. Because of this, we have a bunch of cognitive biases that get in the way of preparedness.

    One such bias is known as probability neglect, which means that even if we see a threat brewing halfway around the world, we tend to dismiss it or underestimate the impact it could have on us.

    Another is the anchoring effect. This refers to the way we tend to latch on to a first impression, and how we refuse to budge from it even when all signs point to it being wrong. Likewise, the more time and money we invest in a possible solution, the more difficult it becomes for us to change course, even when it’s clear that the solution won’t work.

    But there is a silver lining: once you’re aware of these biases, you can take steps to overcome them. It will take some active effort on your part, but there’s no reason you can’t become the kind of leader who not only recognizes and manages a crisis but comes out on top. That’s right, you can be the boss who replaces panic and neglect with preparedness and poise.

    One of the best examples of this is Adam Silver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). On March 11, 2020 – the same day the World Health Organization made the pandemic official – Silver put the NBA season on suspension. This is something that had never happened in league history. But Silver had been paying strict attention to what had been brewing the past few months and took action based on what he saw were “the facts.”

    Perhaps most importantly, Silver wasn’t acting as his own counsel on the matter. He went outside his immediate circle and reached out to scientists, physicians, and trainers in order to get the best possible picture of what the COVID-19 threat looked like. With those added perspectives on the crisis, he decided to cancel the season – a decision that would no doubt cost the NBA tons of money. 

    But that’s not the end of the story. Silver put together a diverse brain trust of health-care and sports experts to build the first “bubble.” At a cost of around $190 million, this was another expensive decision since it involved creating what was essentially a small city in Florida where all the players and team members could live in isolation. But with “the bubble” in place, the league was able to play 172 games, with zero cases of COVID. In the end, Silver’s decision not only kept people safe – and showed the world how a business could continue to operate during a raging pandemic – it allowed the NBA to come out on top and earn $1.5 billion in revenue.

    What Silver did is a classic example of the agency of leadership during a crisis. As a leader, it’s essentially your responsibility to take action.

    In the sections ahead, we’ll get into more detail on the skills you can develop in order to be the most prepared leader you can be.

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    What is The Prepared Leader about?

    The Prepared Leader (2022) is a guidebook for those seeking insights on how to manage and persevere through a crisis. One thing is certain: it won’t be long before another crisis hits. The Prepared Leader shows how you can be ready and successful in weathering the next storm.

    The Prepared Leader Review

    The Prepared Leader (2021) is an insightful book that explores the essential qualities and skills needed to lead effectively in today's rapidly changing world. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • By offering practical strategies and actionable advice, it empowers leaders to navigate complex challenges and drive meaningful change.
    • Grounded in extensive research, case studies, and interviews with successful leaders, the book provides evidence-based insights that are both reliable and relevant.
    • With its compelling storytelling and compelling anecdotes, the book keeps readers engaged, ensuring that leadership development remains captivating and far from boring.

    Who should read The Prepared Leader?

    • Group leaders and executives
    • Business owners
    • HR professionals

    About the Author

    Erika H. James is the dean of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the former John H. Harland Dean at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

    Lynn Perry Wooten is the president of Simmons University, and the former David J. Nolan Dean and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

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    The Prepared Leader FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Prepared Leader?

    Leadership qualities and skills needed to be successful in today's rapidly changing business environment.

    How long does it take to read The Prepared Leader?

    Reading time varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Prepared Leader a good book? Is it worth reading?

    A valuable read for anyone aspiring to be a prepared leader, offering practical insights and strategies.

    Who is the author of The Prepared Leader?

    Erika H. James and Lynn Perry Wooten.

    What to read after The Prepared Leader?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Prepared Leader, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Anticipate by Rob-Jan de Jong
    • The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
    • Adaptability by Max McKeown
    • Elevate by Joseph Deitch
    • Communicate in a Crisis by Kate Hartley
    • Mastering Communication at Work by Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann
    • The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias by Pamela Fuller & Mark Murphy with Anne Chow
    • Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel
    • So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport
    • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene