Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders
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  • Wiley

More About This Title Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders


Praise for Reading the Room

"If you believe, as I do, that tackling our toughest problems in organizations and societies will require significant advances in the human domain of how we think and interact, then you will find this book a wonderful resource for a healthier future."—Peter Senge, senior lecturer, leadership and sustainability, MIT Sloan School of Management; and founding chair, Society for Organizational Learning (SoL)

"A must-read for anyone truly interested in gaining access to and managing their own actions/behavior as well as all those we work with, live with, and interact with. It will shift the way you, others, and the world occur for you."—Michael C. Jensen, Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration, emeritus, Harvard Business School

"David Kantor is one of the very few master innovators and theorists in organizational leadership. In this combined story and practice guide, Kantor helps leaders see the hidden dynamics of the groups they lead, and the personal and social factors that shape their relationships with those groups." —Art Kleiner, editor in chief, strategy+business

"Kantor addresses the fundamental issue that leaders are surprisingly inept in conversation and in managing groups. Leaders and managers at all levels should be learning these concepts in order to improve their own ability to analyze what is going on and react appropriately."—Edgar H. Schein, professor emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management; and author, Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

"An exceptional book in the true sense of the word. It stands alone in its grasp of what it takes to succeed as a leader. It's not simply about mastering the five forces, milking cash cows, accelerating experience curves, or even spurring disruptive innovation. It's about reading the room. Leaders who gain mastery of what David Kantor has to teach in this book will achieve true success, not just as leaders, but as people." —Diana M. Smith, chief executive partner, New Profit Inc.; and author, The Elephant in the Room: How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations

"There are only a few wise masters in the world when it comes to any real understanding of leader-ship, and even fewer who share their secrets. David Kantor is one of them, and in Reading the Room we have brilliantly laid out before us both a unique lens and a highly practical method that will change for good the way you lead, and more, the way you think. Not to be missed!" —William Isaacs, author, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together; and senior lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management


David Kantor, Ph.D., is a systems psychologist, organizational consultant, and clinical researcher. Kantor was formerly the head of Monitor Kantor Enterprises (MKE), a business unit of Monitor Group. Kantor has been a professor at Harvard University, Harvard University Medical School, and Tufts University Medical School. He also founded and served as director of the Kantor Family Institute, a postgraduate training center in Boston, and The Kantor Institute, a training center for consultants, coaches, and leaders.


Preface ix

ONE Reading the Room: Introduction and Framework 1

PART ONE A Complete Language for Understanding Leader Behavior 21

TWO Level I: Action Stances: The Four-Player Model 23

THREE Level II: Domains of Communication: Affect, Power, and Meaning 49

FOUR Level III: Systems in Control of Speech 79

FIVE The Behavioral Profile: A Synthesis of Levels I, II, and III 109

PART TWO Identity and Leader Behavior in High Stakes 125

SIX Level IV: Stories, Identity, and Structured Behavior 127

SEVEN Narrative Purpose 151

EIGHT Leader Behavior in High-Stakes Situations 167

NINE The Heroic Leader in Crisis 193

TEN Sources and Signs of Moral Corruption in Leaders 231

PART THREE Models and the Ultimate Leader 263

ELEVEN From Personal Model to Leadership Model 265

TWELVE Building a Leadership Model 281

THIRTEEN A Model for Living 315

FOURTEEN Beyond the Behavioral Profile 339

FIFTEEN A Structural Dynamics Analysis of Barack Obama 361

AFTERWORD Where Structural Dynamics Goes from Here 385

Notes 387

Acknowledgments 399

About the Author 401