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The Unseen Leader: How can history help us rethink leadership?

Over the last twenty years the world we live in has become increasingly more uncertain and complex. It’s clear that we desperately need effective leaders to navigate through such unpredictability and act as a beacon for all those who look up to them for guidance. But what exactly makes a ‘great’ leader?

Many have searched for the answer; a mission that is  fuelling a $370.3 billion global leadership training  industry. However, data from a McKinsey study suggests that many leadership programmes fail to create desired outcomes. So why is this? Are we looking for answers in the wrong places?

This dilemma is exactly what leadership historian Martin Gutmann addresses in his new book, The Unseen Leader (Springer Publishing), where he questions current perceptions of effective leadership, by exploring what history reveals about great leaders of the past.

In the book, Martin presents a new perspective on leadership – one that is rooted in the insights from history. By drawing on four ‘unseen’ leaders from the past, Martin explores what it takes to be a true leader that makes a real difference in the world.

Having researched dozens of possible leaders to profile, Martin honed his focus on Roald Amundsen, a highly successful polar explorer, yet the least well-known; Toussaint Louverture, history’s only successful slave rebellion leader; Winston Churchill, the controversial colonialist and successful designer of the World War II Allied victory; and Gertrude Bell, mountain climber, desert explorer and shaper of the modern Middle East. Each has their own inspiring story in the face of very different experiences and challenges.

Martin aims to debunk years of guru-inspired leadership wisdom, revealing that being a successful leader has very little to do with heroic struggles or Hollywood stereotypes. In fact, as history has shown us, the most effective leaders are often ‘unseen’, and are overlooked.

Offering practical insights for leaders from every corner of society, The Unseen Leader is a must-read for anybody that wants a deep dive into what it means to truly lead with passion, vision and purpose in order to make positive, lasting change.

The Unseen Leader is published by Springer Publishing and available on Amazon.

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Historian and professor Martin Gutmann releases new book 'The Unseen Leader'

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Martin Gutmann, Ph.D., is a Swiss-American historian, author, and professor at the Lucerne School of Business, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland. He has published three books, and over two dozen academic articles on subjects including leadership, sustainability, international relations and negotiations in a historical context. He is also a partner in Align Coaching and Consulting, a boutique coaching firm. He lives in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, with his wife and their three children.

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