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The Power of Invisible Leadership

The Power of Invisible Leadership
How a Compelling Common Purpose Inspires Exceptional Leadership

February 2013 | 120 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

A powerful force draws people to leadership in countless businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and social movements—we call it invisible leadership. Invisible leadership embodies situations in which dedication to a compelling and deeply held common purpose is the motivating force for leadership. Common purpose is more than a mission statement. It is a profound sense of common destiny, a life course or calling, aligned with a mission that resonates profoundly with our values and our sense of ourselves and others.

This readable, research-based book shows readers how invisible leadership exists in the space between leaders and followers, artists and subjects, and purposes and people. Rather than reinforcing the idea that leadership is embodied in celebrity leaders or in gifted and charismatic individuals, the well known and highly admired authors of this insightful new book identify "charisma of purpose" as the motivating force for invisible leadership. A brief discussion of how invisible leadership impacts businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and social movements guides the reader toward an understanding of the antecedents and possibilities of this way of thinking.

1. Unmasking Leadership
2. Illuminating the Secrets of Ancient, Hidden, and Modern Wisdom
3. Exposing the Ethics of Invisible Leadership
4. Lighting the Path: The Invisible Leadership Study
5.Seeing the Unseen: Experiences With Invisible Leadership
6. Leading Invisibly: The Common Purpose as Leader
Appendix: Invisible Leadership Survey
About the Authors

“When you read a musical composition you see the formal notes but the power of the music comes from the space between them, from the invisible notes. Hickman and Sorenson, using this metaphor (and others) explore leadership inspired by a common purpose. Invisible Leadership is a composition filled with innovative concepts and practical examples grounded in established theory and their own research—A must-read for scholars and practitioners interested in the study and practice of leadership.”

Cynthia Cherrey
President, International Leadership Association

"Hickman and Sorenson's concept of ‘invisible leadership,’ that is, a passionately held common purpose that inspires people to commit themselves to its accomplishment, is exactly what has been missing (maybe, just invisible) from the field of leadership. This brilliant insight extricates the study of leadership from the morass of focusing on narcissistic, power-driven individuals. Instead, "invisible leadership" rivets our attention on that ineffable phenomenon we often mistake for human leaders’ individual qualities or accomplishments. Hickman and Sorenson have broken new ground! What a joy to read!"

Jean Lipman-Blumen, PhD
Peter F. Drucker/Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, Claremont Graduate University

“Understanding invisible leadership enables you to lead using the most effective form of power—intrinsic motivation of your people.”

Dr. Gert W. Meijer
Vice-President Nutrition and Health / Head Unilever Nutrition Network

“The Power of Invisible Leadership explores leadership in a way that will prove useful to all leaders and followers, of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone can benefit from [this] insightful book.”

Angela Nicole Scott
Lehigh University

“…[The Power of Invisible Leadership] addresses a key component that every leader should consider. It draws effectively upon past work and provides a basic framework for understanding.”

Douglas Davenport
Truman State University

“The foundation of this text is grounded in traditional and contemporary leadership philosophies and practices, and emphasizes invisible leadership from a variety of perspectives.”

Bryan Patterson
The University of Tennessee

Covers all traditional and new approaches on leadership

Mrs Navjot Virk
Nursing, Counselling & Psychotherapy, Derby University
May 28, 2015

really easy to read and enjoyable book helped identify key traits and ensured reflection on current practice very interesting as supportive reading.

Mrs Laura Castles
Management, Torfaen Training
December 9, 2014

Well researched. Not enough content for developing a broad base of leadership theory knowledge.

Professor Bryan Deptula
Management, Central Washington University
February 19, 2014

This is an absolute must for leaders at any level. It is full of ideas and strategies to utilise and question. Brilliant.

Miss Paula Ledson
Health, Socail CAre and Childcare, Warrington Collegiate Institute
December 13, 2013
Key features
  • Describes a component of "non-celebrity" leadership focused on the process of change
  • Based on solid research prepared by two of the most respected scholars in leadership studies
  • Includes descriptions of invisible leaders from a wide variety of cultures such as North America, Asia, and Africa
  • Provides examples valid for business, public administration, education, and nonprofit administration

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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