Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters by Jeff Sonnenfeld (Book Review)

I read Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s book, “Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters” in preparation for my being a guest speaker at Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Paths to Power class at Stanford Graduate School of Business. And I must say, Sonnenfeld’s insights are as fascinating as they are invaluable.

Sonnenfeld’s Firing Back is a study in resilience. In a world where careers are often judged by the ascents, this book gives a riveting account of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs experienced by leaders who faced significant professional adversity, and yet, were able to bounce back stronger than ever.

As someone who has been in leadership positions since a young age, now serving as the Chief Technology Officer of The New York Times – I found the stories in this book resonating on a personal level. Many of us in leadership positions know that our journey is often intertwined with unexpected setbacks and hurdles.

Though it is not often discussed, failure is an inherent part of any leadership journey. Sonnenfeld’s book shines a light on this often overlooked aspect, offering invaluable advice on how to navigate these periods of professional adversity. The book underscores the importance of resilience, adaptability, and the power of self-belief in overcoming challenges and emerging stronger.

What resonated with me particularly were Sonnenfeld’s insights on the interplay of personal character, leadership, and the capacity for resilience. As someone who believes in the power of personal development and continuous learning, I found this perspective both enlightening and empowering.

In my career, I have been inspired by many leaders who exemplify this resilient spirit. As I prepared to share my experiences at Professor Pfeffer’s Paths to Power class, Firing Back provided an excellent resource for understanding the power and potential of resilience in leadership.

Sonnenfeld’s Firing Back is a must-read for anyone in leadership, offering a refreshing perspective on the role of resilience in achieving professional success and personal satisfaction. It serves as a reminder that our failures, as much as our successes, shape us as leaders.

For leaders in the digital and technology industry, where change is constant and the pace relentless, Sonnenfeld’s wisdom is particularly pertinent. The book is a testament to the fact that resilience and adaptability, paired with continuous learning, are key ingredients to long-term success and impact.

I am grateful to Jeffrey Sonnenfeld for his invaluable insights and to Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer for providing the opportunity to share my experiences. I hope others find Sonnenfeld’s Firing Back as enlightening and inspiring as I did.




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