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Book of the Month

This month, we have a double-bill for you 

Thinking the Unthinkable: A new imperative for leadership in the digital age

Nik Gowing & Chris Langdon

White Privilege Unmasked

Judy Ryde

Executive leadership faces new vulnerabilities. Many leaders privately concede them, but few are willing to talk publicly about them. ‘Unthinkable’ events since 2014 have revealed a new leadership fragility at the highest levels. And the pace of change shows that the uncertainties are greater than ever. Is this the ‘new normal?’

Thinking the Unthinkable is an investigation into why leaders have appeared more unable or unwilling than ever to anticipate the biggest issues of our time. In an era of ‘wicked problems’ why are current leadership behaviours and culture apparently not fit for purpose? What are the causes of so many failures in policy and strategic forecasting? Why do so many struggle, as they find themselves increasingly out of touch with customers, consumers, shareholders and voters. Are they human frailties? Or are they systemic failures to embrace smartly new realities?

Through hundreds of interviews and conversations, Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon have analysed the deep new challenges to the human capacity of leaders at the highest keels to accept, understand, embrace then handle the extraordinary processes of change and disruption. The findings will be disconcerting to leaders at all levels.

This essential book draws on the candid responses. It breaks down the new principles, and how smart leaders create ways to think the unthinkable and embrace radical change. There are no neat solutions. But knowing what others have done opens the field for what is possible and what you can do in your context.

All white people understand cultural differences from a platform of relative privilege, affecting their personal and professional interactions. How should they respond when confronted with this knowledge? This introductory book looks at the concept of whiteness, and shows how individuals can ‘unmask’ their own whiteness and take meaningful steps to break down unconscious bias and structural racism.

Exploring how colonial history resulted in white privilege, this book examines how that privilege manifests today in a culturally diverse world, and the links between the rise in far-right politics and anti-immigration rhetoric that led to Brexit and Donald Trump’s election. It looks at the pressures on privilege and white populations, with candid reflections on how even well-meaning white people may project unconscious bias in their everyday lives.

The book is written with the ‘helping’ professions in mind, and there are also dedicated chapters on training to raise awareness of white privilege in professional organizations. Beyond these, it will be of interest much more widely, including to anyone who is interested in thinking about what will help us to live in a more just, peaceful and equal world. We all live and work within a racialised society, and it behoves us to understand the complex ways in which cultural attitudes affect individuals and groups within it.

Judy Ryde PhD is a psychotherapist who works with refugees and asylum seekers, and is the Director for Trauma Foundation South West (TFSW). She has worked for nearly 30 years with the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling (BCPC) and the Centre of Supervision and Team Development Bath for 20 years.

Other books by Dr Ryde: Being White in the Helping Professions

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