Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Archive for August 2020

The AFFIRM – DorobekINSIDER Book Club – Forged in Crisis

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How many times have we heard that we are living through unprecedented times? If you are like me, COVID-19 has put unique and extraordinary challenges on government — and on government workers. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could tap Abraham Lincoln’s leadership lessons from the Civil War? Legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery to become a national leader of the abolitionist movement. How did he come to be a transformational leader? 

The AFFIRM Book Club offers a unique opportunity to tap leadership lessons from people who faced unprecedented challenges. The concept of the AFFIRM-DorobekINSIDER Book Club is similar to the Oprah Book Club — but I try to find books that are more… wonky… they are books that focus on the six words that guide me — helping government do its job better.

The book we will be discussing is Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times by Nancy Koehn, a professor at the Harvard Business School. The book profiles five significant but disparate figures in history — and looks at the leadership lessons we can pull from each of their against-all-odds journeys. And we will learn that leaders are not born — they are made.

I think the book is really a timely read for this moment in time. My hope is that you find the book empowering, as I did, particularly during these days when we can feel as if we are being pulled apart by sheering winds.


Think of the AFFIRM book club like a wonky version of Oprah’s book club, where we focus on books that meet my simple, six-word criteria: Help government do its job better. So… it’s easy — and I’ll repeat it below…

First — read the book. For some, it might feel daunting, but… I think it is manageable. Each of the five people gets a section of the book… and — cheater warning — if you run out of time, you can read the first chapter of each of the sections, which provides an overview of the person. You won’t get as much out of the book, but… at least you will have a sense as to the challenges these remarkable people faced.

Then, register to join us on Thursday, August 13 at 12n ET, as we will have a discussion about the book — and about what the lessons are for government.

We are lucky to have Prof. Koehn as part of the discussion — along with government executives as bring their insights about the challenges that government faces today — and how we can apply these leadership lessons to the world today. And we invite your insights and questions during the discussion.

I have created a Facebook group if you want to share your thoughts or insights as you are reading. Or, if you want to Tweet out thoughts, use the hashtag #AFFIRMbookclub

Later this week, I will post how I got connected to this book and why it particularly speaks to me.

Previous DorobekINSIDER Book Club ‘meetings’:

Written by cdorobek

August 2, 2020 at 4:10 PM

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