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The Elephant in the Room

Action Design partner Diana McLain Smith has written a path-breaking book, The Elephant in the Room:  How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations. 

A brief overview:

Despite our best efforts to create great teams and more flexible organizations, too many still look as territorial and bureaucratic as ever. That’s because we’ve overlooked the single most important leverage point for change: relationships.

No one today would dispute the idea that relationships matter. Flatter hierarchies, tighter interdependencies, efforts to move decision-making down in organizations all depend on the quality of people’s relationships.

Yet despite their importance, relationships remain largely a mystery. We know that relationships matter, but not exactly why or how. Like a firm’s culture, relationships are part of the informal side of organizational life: the soft stuff that’s hard to see, grasp, or change.

Based on over 25 years of research, The Elephant in the Room remedies this problem by providing a navigational system with which to see and traverse - with far greater intelligence - that often unpredictable and sometimes treacherous terrain called “relationships.”


What people are saying about the book:

Smith brings to center stage the three R’s of leadership:  relationships, relationships, and relationships.  One of the most brilliant and original books I’ve read, illuminating a theme almost universally ignored, and, ironically, the indispensable core of successful leadership.
— Warren Bennis, distinguished professor of business, University of Southern California, and coauthor (with Noel Tichy), Judgment

Pick this up and you won’t want to put it down.  This fascinating book combines common sense, great stories, and practical advice about how to approach relationships in the workplace.  While my job is to provide healthcare for two million people, all the interactions that matter are one-on-one.
— Nick W. Turkal, President and CEO, Aurora Health Care

Leadership is a relationship.  And it’s the quality of your relationships that will ultimately determine your level of success.  No one understands this better than Diana McLain Smith.  Her new book, The Elephant in the Room, is extraordinary.  It’s one of the most insightful and discerning examinations of interpersonal relationships at work I’ve ever read.  Buy it, read it, use it.
— Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge; and the Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University