Marty Linsky biography and books

Marty Linsky - Toolshero

Marty Linsky is an American professor who contributed to the foundation of the concept of Adaptive Leadership. Marty Linsky co-authored the bestselling book ‘Leadership on the Line’ and also authored several other books on leadership, management, politics, and education.

The biography of Marty Linsky

Marty Linsky studied Political Science at William College in the United States from 1957 until 1961. After college, he obtained his Doctor of law degree in 1964.

After his studies, he worked at different organizations. He worked in various positions, but Marty Linsky has always been passionate about teaching. He now lectures as an Adjunct Lecturer, someone who teaches on a limited contract, for approximately 40 years at the Harvard’s Kennedy School.

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Next to his teaching, he worked as a Chief Secretary to the Governor of Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also worked as a reporter and editorial writer at The Boston Globe and as an editor of the Alternative newspaper. Due to his experience, Marty Linsky decided to establish an enterprise.

In 2002, Linsky co-founded Cambridge Leadership Association. The company today comprises a team of highly experienced consultants working around the globe skilled in the practical application of Adaptive Leadership. Their goal is to help both organizations and individuals to identify the most significant challenges, generate new solutions, and exercise leadership required to bring them to scale.

Due to Marty Linsky’s experience, and together with his team, he has helped many large and internationally known organizations, including Microsoft, IBM, Towers Watson, Google, and Alcon Laboratories. Since 2007, he also works together with Kansas Leadership Center as a consultant. This organization is committed to helping people lead more effectively in the challenges that face them in Kansas.

Since 2012, Marty Linsky works as a Board Member for Ascend Learning Charter Schools, an organization that provides lower school, middle schools, and high schools.

Marty Linsky’s experience as a consultant, facilitator, and teacher is highly valued. He helped both national as international public and private organizations. He currently lives in New York and is married to Lynn Staley with who he has three children. Marty Linsky is a father in shape who adores food and like to do sports exercises.

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Famous quotes

  1. “The hope of leadership lies in the capacity to deliver disturbing news and raise difficult questions in a way that people can absorb, prodding them to take up the message rather than ignore it or kill the messenger.”
  2. “To survive and succeed in exercising leadership, you must work as closely with your opponents as you do with your supporters.”
  3. “leadership requires disturbing people—but at a rate they can absorb.”
  4. “Leadership is an improvisational art. You may have an overarching vision, clear, orienting values, and even a strategic plan, but what you actually do from moment to moment cannot be scripted. To be effective, you must respond to what is happening.”
  5. “Being criticized by people you care about is almost always a part of exercising leadership.”
  6. “No one learns only by staring in the mirror. We all learn—and are sometimes transformed—by encountering differences that challenge our own experience and assumptions.”
  7. “Seduction, marginalization, diversion, and attack all serve a function.”
  8. “Trying to take satisfaction in life from the numbers you ring up is ultimately no more successful than making survival your goal.”
  9. “When exercising leadership, you risk getting marginalized, diverted, attacked, or seduced. Regardless of the form, however, the point is the same. When people resist adaptive work, their goal is to shut down those who exercise leadership in order to preserve what they have.”
  10. “Children have generative power. They create meaning as they busily connect with whatever is happening. But grown-ups often forget that ability. They tend to lose that playful, adventuresome, creative generativity by which they can ask themselves: What’s worth doing today?”

Books and Publications by Marty Linsky et al.

  • 2017. Leadership on the Line, With a New Preface: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Change. Harvard Business Press.
  • 2016. Leading change through adaptive design. Change, 49.
  • 2014. Adaptive Leadership: The Heifetz Collection 3 Items. Harvard Business Review Press.
  • 2011. Occupy Wall Street is going nowhere without leadership. CNN. com, October, 28.
  • 2011. Becoming an adaptive leader. Lifelong Faith, 26-33.
  • 2011. Adaptive challenges for school leadership. Leading and managing schools, 1.
  • 2009. The theory behind the practice. The practice of adaptive leadership: Tools and tactics for changing your organization and the world, 1-34.
  • 2009. The practice of adaptive leadership: Tools and tactics for changing your organization and the world. Harvard Business Press.
  • 2009. Leadership in a permanent crisis. Harvard business review, 877/8, 62-69.
  • 2008. Using conflict as a catalyst for change. Harvard Management Update, 134, 3-5.
  • 2006. The Morning Meeting: Best-Practice Communication for Executive Teams. Harvard Management Communication Letter, 32.
  • 2006. Get on the balcony: Why leaders need to step back to get perspective. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  • 2004. When leadership spells danger. Educational leadership, 617, 33-37.
  • 2004. Leading in tough times. Educational Leadership, 617, 33-37.
  • 2003. A survival guide for leaders. BUSINESS CREDIT-NEW YORK THEN COLUMBIA MD-, 1053, 44-52.
  • 2002. Leading with an open heart. Leader to Leader, 26, 28-33.
  • 2002. A survival guide for leaders. Harvard business review, 806, 65-74.
  • 1997. The new corporate activism. Public Relations Review, 231, 89-89.
  • 1996. Democracy at Risk: How Schools Can Lead.
  • 1995. The new corporate activism: Harnessing the power of grassroots tactics for your organization. McGraw-Hill Companies.
  • 1990. Teaching with cases: Learning to question. New directions for teaching and learning, 199042, 41-57.
  • 1988. The media and public deliberation. The power of public ideas, 205-27.
  • 1986. Impact: How the President Affects Federal Policymaking.
  • 1986. How the press affects federal policymaking: Six case studies. WW Norton.
  • 1986. Beyond the hotline: How crisis control can prevent nuclear war. Penguin Books.
  • 1983. Television and the presidential elections: self-interest and the public interest. Free Press.

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Published on: 08/01/2018 | Last update: 07/29/2023

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Alexander Zeeman
Article by:

Alexander Zeeman

Alexander Zeeman is Content Manager at ToolsHero where he focuses on Content production, Content management and marketing. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business school. Currently, in his study, working on the development of various management competencies and improving operational business processes.


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