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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


The Courage to Act: 5 Factors of Courage to Transform Business by Merom Klein & Rod Napier (Davies-Black Publishing)starts from the premise: Courage can be cultivated and learned.

When jobs change at the stroke of a pen and compromising is often easier than taking the high road, courage is the key individual and organizational competency that defines the high performers. With team-based structures and cross-functional mandates creating ambiguity and conflict, and when it's safer to pass the buck than to accept accountability, organizations rise and fall based on the courage they inspire from the top down, the bottom up, and the middle out.

Pragmatic and practical, The Courage to Act puts the art of acting with courage within reach of anyone who wants to achieve extraordinary results at work. From fieldwork that has spanned four continents and dozens of countries – from Fortune 100 corporations to the Israeli military – comes a simple, elegant, and powerful five-factor model of acting with courage when faced with everyday moments of truth, and individual strength and character are put to the test. With thought-provoking case studies, the authors' unique Courage Index questionnaire, and other hands-on tools, The Courage to Act offers a simple yet dynamic approach for assessing, fostering, teaching, and learning courage.  In an engaging and lively way, Klein and Napier, both management consultants, detail the five factors needed to face adversity, deal with ambiguity, seize opportunities before they get away, and work through rather than avoid conflicts. These factors are candor, purpose, will, rigor, and risk.

Courage isn't a spectator sport. The Courage to Act can be more than "a good read;" it may inspire you to accept the mantle of courage yourself – and do one more thing to lift your colleagues out of their collective complacency. 

Nothing to Fear: Lessons in Leadership from FDR by Alan Axelrod (Portfolio, Penguin Group) Purpose and Principle. Hard Fact and Hard Responsibility. Credibility. Change. Motivation. Confidence and Courage.

In business and in life, these principles, among others, directly affect who we are and the way in which we conduct ourselves publicly and privately. Simply, they are both guidelines for and predictors of success, as they were for the man who was arguable the greatest American leader of the twentieth century – Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In Nothing to Fear, the bestselling author of Elizabeth I, CEO and Patton on Leadership, Alan Axelrod, renowned historian, biographer and business writer, examines the unparalleled leadership qualities of FDR, a man who would come to exemplify the kind of decency, bravery, and relentless courage it took to lift America out of the Great Depression and steer it through the darkest days of World War II, even as he battled a debilitating illness of the public stage. The leadership of FDR transformed the most perilous years of the twentieth century into what many Americans regard as our finest hour.
Axelrod distills Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s life and career into fourteen themes containing a wealth of practical lessons for successful leadership in the boardroom and beyond: Purpose and Principle; Hard Fact and Hard Responsibility; Credibility; Making Contact; Refusing Defeat; Plain Speech and Good Talk; Preparation and Risk; Change; Motivation; Making Everyone Count; Self-Interest and Self-Sacrifice; Confidence and Courage; Knowledge and Self-Knowledge; and Progress and Prediction. In the kind of clear, elegant language for which he has come to be known, Axelrod provides a vehicle for learning, understanding, and putting into practice what it was that made FDR one of history’s greatest leaders – and managers. Nothing to Fear is packed with eminently quotable and supremely practical maxims, such as:

  • The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.
  • When you get to the end of your rope, ties a knot and hang on.
  • It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all try something.
  • If you treat people right, they will treat you right – 90 percent of the time.

Nothing to Fear is sure to be an inspirational and frequently cited volume for private and public leaders and managers at all levels.

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