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New Leadership Book: "The Unfinished Leader: Balancing Contradictory Answers to Unsolvable Problems"

Helping Executives Successfully Lead When There Are No Right Answers

PORTLAND, OR -- (Marketwired) -- 04/14/14 --

By David L. Dotlich, Peter C. Cairo, and Cade Cowan
at Pivot Leadership
Published by Jossey-Bass

"Once you've stopped learning, you've stopped leading. This book shows you why, and offers proven methods, instructive examples, and practical tools for managing some of our most complex challenges as leaders."
- John T. Cahill, Chairman, Kraft Foods Group Inc.

Executives at Pivot Leadership ( have written an important new book entitled, "The Unfinished Leader: Balancing Contradictory Answers to Unsolvable Problems," (Jossey-Bass; 978-1-118-45509-8; April 2014; $28.00; e-book available) by David L. Dotlich, Peter C. Cairo, and Cade Cowan.

Based on research and interviews with over 100 CEOs and senior executives around the world, the book identifies the three new mindsets and multiple communication tools which successful leaders employ to engage people, make decisions, develop talent, and grow companies in the face of constant competition, change, and complexity. Dotlich, Cairo, and Cowan each bring an amalgam of experience, based on coaching and consulting leaders at the world's foremost companies, such as Nike, Colgate, Deutsche Post DHL, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Walmart, and many more.

How Do Executives Lead Others to Successful Outcomes When There Are No Right Answers?
Given the constant demands of technology, transparency, and connectedness, leaders from the front line to the C-suite find delivering results is now more challenging than ever in the face of complex dilemmas that cannot be easily solved, denied, or postponed. These perplexing, recurring issues are familiar and present throughout organizations today: the conflicting needs of purpose and profit, short- and long-term goals, local versus global demands, and the need for a flatter, more nimble organization that still executes with discipline.

These are not problems, but paradoxes -- situations in which there may not be a single correct solution or right decision, and competing outcomes are continually changing, making closure impossible. While many leaders feel overwhelmed and challenged by this prospect, or engage in denial, Dotlich and his team help them embrace the reality of being permanently "unfinished."

Three Things Successful Leaders Do to Be Successful Today:

  • Recognize the Difference Between a Puzzle and a Paradox
  • Give Up on the Hope for Control, Consistency, and Closure
  • Let a Purpose, Not a Plan, Guide Your Way

The Unfinished Leader provides the mindsets and tools to recognize contradictory requirements, understand competing demands, develop decision criteria, and still be able to take action. The book will help leaders at all levels understand and excel at their true task: guiding themselves and their teams through ongoing paradoxes, reconciling competing outcomes, continually changing and adapting, and thereby building lasting success.

More Praise for The Unfinished Leader
"I hope every leader will finish The Unfinished Leader. Written by coaches and advisers to some of the world's top CEOs, this book describes in concrete terms how successful leaders bring people together in the face of complexity and uncertainty."
- Stephen P. Holmes, Chairman and CEO, Wyndham Worldwide

"Many 'how to' books show how leaders can fix problems. Yet, as the authors point out, senior leaders live in a world of complex, ever-changing, and unstructured challenges. The Unfinished Leader offers a rare opportunity to learn from experts about how to not only deal with real world complexity, but to thrive in it."
- Fred Hassan, Executive Chairman, Bausch & Lomb, and Managing Director, Warburg Pincus

"The Unfinished Leader is a must read for any executive who wrestles with paradoxes such as the tension between short-term and long-term goals, local and global demands, and messy organizational structures. Which really means that every executive in business today needs to read this book."
- Paul M. Rand, Chief Digital Officer, Ketchum, President/CEO, Zócalo Group, and Author of Highly Recommended (McGraw Hill, 2013)

"In today's fast-moving and collaborative environment, leadership skills are becoming an increasingly critical aspect of success. Leadership dilemmas are an opportunity to inspire innovation and creativity if you approach them with the right tools and mindset. The Unfinished Leader shows that true leaders often emerge by overcoming seemingly impossible 'one size does not fit all' situations. Full of invaluable insights from international CEOs and senior executives, The Unfinished Leader provides practical advice on how the best leaders turn obstacles into opportunities to inspire innovation and creativity."
- Marvin Chow, Marketing Director, Japan & Asia Pacific, Google Inc.

"The mental skills a leader cultivates and brings to solving challenges are important. The Unfinished Leader will allow leaders to face with clarity the seemingly unsolvable problems they confront. The only downside of reading The Unfinished Leader is that it ends!"
- Mahzarin R. Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

For More Information

  • To see The Unfinished Leader video, click here.
  • To purchase The Unfinished Leader, go to Amazon, 800CEOREAD, or B&N.

About David L. Dotlich
Dr. David Dotlich is the chairman and CEO of Pivot Leadership, a consulting firm that designs and implements corporate strategy and executive development programs for Fortune 500 companies. A successful entrepreneur who has founded and run two large independent companies, he advises CEOs and boards on issues of talent, leadership, and strategy.

Named one of the Top 50 Coaches in the United States, Dr. Dotlich is former executive vice president of Honeywell International, founder and former president of CDR International and Delta Executive Learning Center, and former president of Mercer Delta Consulting.

Dr. Dotlich is the co-author of 11 bestselling books, including his latest, The Unfinished Leader: Balancing Contradictory Answers to Unsolvable Problems; as well as Head, Heart, and Guts: How the World's Best Companies Develop Complete Leaders; Why CEOs Fail; Action Coaching; Unnatural Leadership; Action Learning: How the World's Top Companies Are Re-Creating Their Leaders and Themselves; Leadership Passages: The Personal and Professional Transitions That Make or Break a Leader; and Leading in Times of Crisis: How to Navigate Complexity, Diversity, and Uncertainty to Save Your Company, which has been translated into ten languages. He is the co-editor of the Pfeiffer Leadership Development Annual, a yearly compilation of the research findings and practices of the foremost thinkers and practitioners in the field of leadership development throughout the world.

Dr. Dotlich is certified psychologist in career development, life planning, and numerous psychological inventories. He completed his MA and PhD at the University of Minnesota, where he was selected Outstanding Graduate Student of the University. He has also completed the INSEAD Executive Program.

About Pivot Leadership
Pivot partners with Fortune 500 executives to help them lead, innovate, and successfully 'pivot' their businesses in volatile markets and changing industries. Working with companies such as Nike, eBay, BlackRock, Walmart, and Johnson & Johnson, Pivot designs and implements corporate strategy and talent development programs that are creative, customized, and scalable. Based in Portland, Oregon, Pivot has developed leaders in 28 countries across the globe. To learn more, visit or follow @pivotleadership.

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