Flex: The Art and Science of Leadership in a Changing World
By Jeffrey Hull
TarcherPerigee, 272 pp., $26
In Flex, Hull provides an easy-to-read, straightforward approach to help leaders thrive in today's organizations. Through a wide range of real-world examples and stories, he presents readers with numerous opportunities to connect to their own individual experiences and situations. The book details the concepts of alpha and beta leaders. Hull describes alphas as traditional or "heroic" leaders who may be expected to swoop in to save the day, while the more introverted betas lead with expertise, consensus-building, and refined listening skills. Alphas seek to win, and betas seek to grow through collaboration, sharing, and engagement.
Hull suggests that although alpha leaders often still run the show, they are a dying breed. Qualities such as relatability and vulnerability are gaining favor among leaders over more traditional qualities such as being charismatic and strategic. Leaders who want to remain viable should value agility and flexibility over mastering one specific leadership style.
Throughout Flex, Hull describes six core dimensions of leadership agility he says are necessary to be successful and overcome the challenges leaders face in modern unstructured environments. The six dimensions of what he labels the FIERCE model encompass flexibility, intentionality, emotional intelligence, realness (authenticity), collaboration, and engagement. Each dimension also falls within one of three categories of power: mental (power of mindset), emotional (power of feelings), and somatic (power of the body). To help leaders move from alpha to beta and develop their leadership agility, Hull provides numerous activities and techniques throughout the book.
From the beginning, the author encourages readers to complete a series of leadership self-assessments that begin the process of reflection and growth but also set the stage for Hull's process and style throughout the entire journey. He also includes several quick-hit workouts, which are simple but engaging and enjoyable activities that aim to increase self-awareness and change the way leaders think. The workouts only take a few minutes to complete but provide useful tips and techniques that individuals can easily apply to everyday settings.
Overall, Flex is a captivating and insightful departure from other leadership books. Hull provides advice and techniques based in research but presents them from a practitioner's perspective, which makes them easy to apply in the real world. The meaningful stories and examples throughout provide opportunities for leaders to relate the methods to their own specific situations and experiences. For those who want to improve their ability to lead in today's changing landscape, pick up this book and learn the art of self-coaching.