The Humble Leadership Series from Edgar Schein and Peter Schein seeks to reimagine hierarchical power structures and strengthen relationships in organizations through humility and respect. This trio of titles hold the potential to unlock limitless potential in people and organizations.
Now in its second edition, Humble Inquiry is a worldwide bestseller that offers simple guidance for building the kind of open and trusting relationships vital for tackling global systemic challenges and developing adaptive, innovative organizations.
The Scheins define Humble Inquiry as “the gentle art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building relationships based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” This edition offers a deepening and broadening of this concept, seeing it as not just a way of posing questions but an entire attitude that includes better listening, better responding to what others are trying to tell us, and better revealing of ourselves. Packed with case examples and a full chapter of exercises and simulations, this is a major contribution to how we see human conversational dynamics and relationships, presented in a compact, personal, and eminently practical way.
The more traditional forms of leadership that are based on static hierarchies and professional distance between leaders and followers are growing increasingly outdated and ineffective. As organizations face more complex interdependent tasks, leadership must become more personal in order to insure open trusting communication that will make more collaborative problem solving and innovation possible.
Without open and trusting communications throughout organizations, they will continue to face the productivity and quality problems that result from reward systems that emphasize individual competition and “climbing the corporate ladder”. Authors Edgar Schein and Peter Schein recognize this reality and call for a reimagined form of leadership that coincides with emerging trends of relationship building, complex group work, diverse workforces, and cultures in which everyone feels psychologically safe. Humble Leadership calls for “here and now” humility based on a deeper understanding of the constantly evolving complexities of interpersonal, group and intergroup relationships that require shifting our focus towards the process of group dynamics and collaboration. Humble Leadership at all levels and in all working groups will be the key to achieving the creativity, adaptiveness, and agility that organizations will need to survive and grow.
Organizations face challenges today that are too messy and complicated for consultants to simply play doctor: run a few tests, offer a neat diagnosis of the “problem,” and recommend a solution. Edgar Schein argues that consultants have to jettison the old idea of professional distance and work with their clients in a more personal way, emphasizing authentic openness, curiosity, and humility. Schein draws deeply on his own decades of experience, offering over two dozen case studies that illuminate each stage of this humble consulting process. Just as he did with Process Consultation nearly fifty years ago, Schein has once again revolutionized the field, enabling consultants to be more genuinely helpful and vastly more effective.
Ed Schein is the author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including Career Dynamics, Organizational Culture and Leadership, and Humble Inquiry. He is a Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, and has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Harvard. He continues to consult with various local and international organizations on a variety of organizational culture and career development issues, with special emphasis on safety and quality in health care, the nuclear energy industry, and the US Forest Service.
Peter Schein is a strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. He provides help to start-ups and expansion-phase technology companies. Peter’s expertise draws on over twenty years of industry experience in marketing and corporate development at technology pioneers. Peter was educated at Stanford University (BA Social Anthropology, Honors and Distinction) and Northwestern University (Kellogg MBA, Marketing and Information Management, Top Student in Information Management).