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Publisher's Summary

From the former secretary of defense and author of the acclaimed number-one best-selling memoir Duty, a characteristically direct, informed, and urgent assessment of why big institutions are failing us and how smart, committed leadership can effect real improvement regardless of scale.
Across the realms of civic and private enterprise alike, bureaucracies vitally impact our security, freedoms, and everyday life. With so much at stake, competence, efficiency, and fiscal prudence are essential, yet Americans know these institutions fall short. Many despair that they are too big and too hard to reform.
Robert Gates disagrees. Having led change successfully at three monumental organizations - the CIA, Texas A&M University, and the Department of Defense - he offers us the ultimate insider's look at how major bureaus, organizations, and companies can be transformed, which is by turns heartening and inspiring and always instructive.
With practical, nuanced advice on tailoring reform to the operative culture (we see how Gates worked within the system to increase diversity at Texas A&M); effecting change within committees; engaging the power of compromise ("in the real world of bureaucratic institutions, you almost never get all you want when you want it"); and listening and responding to your team, Gates brings the full weight of his wisdom, candor, and devotion to civic duty to inspire others to lead desperately needed change.
©2015 Robert M. Gates (P)2015 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Informative, entertaining, and useful.... The author's real-life a side of bureaucracy and of upper-level leadership not often revealed to the public.... A concise distillation of more than five decades of leadership knowledge...." ( Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By AlexJouJou on 01-30-16

Useful for leadership in the public sector!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend to anyone who struggles through a career role that is mired in politics, bureaucracy, and "because that's the way we've always done it" mentality. The audiobook, in particular, was very well narrated. The voice was solid with great inflection and I found him pleasing and easy to listen too.

What did you like best about this story?

The practical components that I can take out and use in my everyday work life. The acknowledgement that candor can be valued, the slow pace that can cripple efforts to change, finding ways (sometimes small) to get folks on board with change, and how to handle it when you just cannot fire someone. Yes sometimes that really does happen.

Have you listened to any of George Newbern’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to any previous but I would listen to him in any book. I am well pleased with the narrator.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I had no extreme reaction other than careful thought for what the book was saying.

Any additional comments?

I'm going to purchase the regular book as well on kindle. There were too many places where I wanted to write things down - but I use audio books on long runs and commutes and neither is conducive to jotting notes down.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Lara Ligocki on 05-19-18

A pure strategy and framework for leading in today’s world!

Robert Gates provides a meticulous and experiential guide to leadership that is both perceptive and so simple and logical that it’s almost a step-by-step instructional on leadership and organizational change.

Everyone in the service should read this book.

Everyone in business should read this book.

Everyone in government should read this book.

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