BOOK REVIEW: Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life (by Kevin Cashman Berrett-Koehler, 2008, ISBN #978-1-57675-599-0)

At the point our body and our senses (eyes, ears, touch, etc.) meet

the world lies a crossroads. At this very point we experience a

constant, two-way flow from the…

  1. Outside in–situations, actions and events in their environment

  2. Inside out–how we feel, interpret, process these situations and decide on our response


Cashman talks about this intersection as it applies to leaders. On the

one hand, a leader’s environment obviously affects what goes on in the

leader’s mind and, in return, the leader’s mental processing generates

responses and actions that impact his/her environment. External and

internal, it is a dynamic whole. You cannot seriously consider

leadership development without addressing both elements.


is right on the money when he says that typical leadership development

programs in organizations concentrate pretty well exclusively on the

“outside,” the doing part: leadership actions, behaviors, competencies, techniques, and so forth. For this reason he has chosen to focus Leadership from the Inside Out on the “inside” or being

part: how you go about continually growing your inner self as a leader.

The book is about growing the whole person as the way to grow an

excellent leader.

I like this book for several

reasons. The inner focus, around values and unconscious beliefs,

assumptions and habits of thought, form the center of attention of

recent studies in leadership. Secondly, the author lays out a road map

for developing our selves from the inside out. This map includes seven distinct practice areas:

  1. Personal mastery

  2. Purpose mastery

  3. Interpersonal mastery

  4. Change mastery

  5. Resilience mastery

  6. Being mastery

  7. Action mastery


at the end of each mastery area’s chapter he lists practical activities

to develop yourself in that particular area. The seven areas do not

suggest any sort of sequential plan or stages of development. Rather,

we are to see them as integrated, ongoing processes. You can be working

to get clarity around your goals and priorities (Purpose mastery) at

the same time as you are enhancing your ability to build stronger

relationships (Interpersonal mastery).

I agree

wholeheartedly when Cashman says that inner mastery work requires a

lifelong commitment. You can’t complete it with a few workshops or six

months of coaching. The best leaders never cease to engage in

self-observation, soliciting feedback from others, reflection, and

continued self-discovery.

Why is there no “quick

fix” on the internal side? Because these unconscious beliefs and maps

of reality that we all carry around inside us are deeply ingrained.

They determine or at least heavily influence our external behavior. But

because they are mostly below our level of awareness, we don’t see them

operating. Furthermore, we don’t know that we don’t see them. The only

way to release ourselves from their grip on us is to bring these

limiting beliefs and thinking habits into the light of day and

consciously develop new pathways to effectiveness.

This is where this book comes in.


the balance of this review I want to shine the light on a few points

that particularly resonated with me from Kevin Cashman’s seven master


Personal Mastery and Purpose Mastery.

Some lead through the force of their character but most managers lead

more through a coping strategy. They genuinely try to get results but

divert too much of their available time and attention to maintaining

their own image, security, comfort and control. Obviously we can’t

expect people to ignore their personal concerns altogether but the best

leaders prefer their behavior be determined by their strong character

and compelling goals.

Interpersonal Mastery.

Cashman quotes a Saratoga Institute study of recently departed

employees and their respective managers. 85% of the bosses said their

employee left for greater opportunity and more money. But, 80% of the

former employees cited the reason for their departure as a poor

relationship with and lack of coaching from the manager. I wonder how

many of the “departees” were too valuable to lose. Your interpersonal

mastery level has a huge impact on your overall effectiveness as a

leader and, by extension, on the results you get.

Change Mastery. If we accept the idea that managers work with what exists and leaders go beyond to what as yet does not exist, then leadership is all about creating change.

Resilience Mastery. 92% of the 62 CEO’s interviewed for the book cited resilience as the most challenging area to master.

I was initially surprised at this but, upon reflection, it makes sense.

Resilience is both the ability to stay focused and energized amid the

turmoil and complexity of today’s environment and the capacity to

bounce back from a setback or defeat. It calls for a laundry list of

elements, including:

  • confidence in yourself and your purpose

  • strong achievement drive

  • ability to learn from your mistakes

  • agility

  • living a balanced lifestyle

  • having a close support network

  • the willingness to work with what you can control or influence, while accepting what you can’t

Being Mastery.

Some form of reflective quiet time, ideally including mind-focusing

meditation, provides a way to uncover your deeper purpose and develop

that calmness under stress that people trust and are attracted to.

Action Mastery.

The performance coach needs to call for the client’s commitment to new

behavior and then hold him or her to the pledge. Zenger Folkman

research indicates that 50% of the impact of training comes from

post-workshop skills application back on the job, supported by

coaching. An ASTD study shows that post-training coaching boosts the

impact of the training by 73%. Without the will and discipline to act,

you have no leadership effectiveness.

The bottom

line of recent research–and of this book–is that to achieve a

significant degree of mastery as a leader we must attend to mastering

ourselves. This book provides a lot for all of us to consider…and then

take action upon!


Ian helps managers become the "best bosses" their employees ever had.

Through his keynote presentations, highly interactive training workshops, team building facilitation and individual coaching, he helps his clients develop strong leaders at all levels of their organization.

Ian works primarily with managers, mid-level to executive. His programs introduce cutting-edge skills and concepts around

- transforming managers into leaders
- fostering superior team ...

Go Deeper | Website

Have a question for Ian?

* Required information
Email Address:
(never displayed)

Your question or comment:
Human? Type the word for the number 9.
Enter answer:
Tell me when Ian responds to me.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.


New Graphic
Subscriber Counter