The Book Corner - Review

Leadership From the Inside Out (2nd ed.) by Kevin Cashman

Leadership From the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life, 2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded

By Kevin Cashman
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008

Read this book, but read the first edition:
2nd edition: 2 stars
1st edition: 4 stars

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Soul-ed Out

2 stars: Read this book if and when you have the time

In his bestselling first edition, author Kevin Cashman tapped into the duality of mankind and compelled his readers to be authentic. He challenged us to venture deep inside ourselves and consider our values, essence, and purpose. Spiritually reminiscent of The Pilgrim’s Progress, Cashman described our journey and the challenges along the seven pathways to leadership mastery, while  encouraging the reader to be reflective and transcendent. The essence of the first edition is best captured in the following quote from the text:

Leadership from the Inside Out is about playing the song of our life with depth, grace, and passion.

Cashman’s thesis was and is particularly relevant in the current climate of leadership failures and vilification of leaders who stumble on their journeys. A values-centered, ethical leader (or emerging leader) will find his premise compelling and his reflections illuminating.

After a decade of success and the corporate acquisition of his first edition, Cashman has published this second edition, in which the seven pathways to mastery personal, purpose, interpersonal, change, resilience (formerly balance), being, and action are now steps, and the author provides more “tools.” Indeed, the second edition is less reflective and formatted more like a workbook than the first edition.
The seminal quote from this revised, commercialized second edition?

Leadership from the Inside Out is about playing the song of our life with depth, passion, and world-class skill. [emphasis added]

While reminding us to lead by who we really are, the second edition seems to have lost some of the soul and expression that made the first one so rich it feels pasteurized and homogenized, as though written by corporate committee, not by an inspired heart. Ironically, while Cashman compels us to “transcend what is” as leaders, his second-edition revisions seem to reflect the results of surveys and “what we have learned in the marketplace,” (i.e., what is); and thus, he tragically falls on his own commercialized, deductive sword.

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