Nuance : Why Some Leaders Succeed and Others Fail

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Break the cycle of surface-level change and failure

How do leaders become clearer as complexity increases? We live in a world where decisions require judgment, getting people on board, drawing on local knowledge, ingenuity, and commitment. As leaders, how do you get beneath surface-level change to tackle complex challenges with depth and clarity.

Nuance is the answer.

Michael Fullan returns with an eminently readable, compelling and practical guide on the three habits of nuance: joint determination, adaptability, and culture-based accountability. Learn how you can:

* Combine the power of networks and humanity to get to desired destinations.

* Embrace complexity and understand context to develop better judgment

* Change the culture of your organization to harness the forces of nuance.

* Develop quality change that sticks

With tons of examples and case studies of this book makes explicit the hidden habits and mind frames of leaders who deliver lasting change.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 12.7mm | 30g
  • Thousand Oaks, United States
  • English
  • 1544309929
  • 9781544309927
  • 1,431

Table of contents

Introduction: Making the World Go Round
Chapter 1. The Nature and Need for Nuance
Nuance: A Subtle Difference in or Shade of Meaning, Expression, or Sound
Surfacers vs. Nuancers
Leonardo da Vinci: The Patron Saint of Nuance
Nuance: Never More Needed Than Now
The Nature of Nuanced Leadership
The Nuanced Leadership Framework
Chapter 2. Jointly Determined Change: Be Right at the End of the Meeting
The Prevalence of Bad Leadership
Joint Determination
Case Example One: The Problem of Declining Levels of Principal Well-Being
Case Example Two: Districtwide Transformation to "Deep Learning"
Case Example Three: School Turnaround
Case Example Four: Turning Around Persistently Failing Schools
Integrative Leadership
Chapter 3. Adaptability: Learn and Lead in Equal Measure
Case Example Five: Rescuing Education From Technology
Case Example Six: The Toronto District School Board
Case Example Seven: Shattering Inequity
Case Example Eight: Global Initiative in Deep Learning
Chapter 4. Culture-Based Accountability: Trust and Interact
The Fruitless Pursuit of Top-Down Accountability
Ingredients of Culture-Based Accountability
1. Use the Group to Change the Group
2. Precision Over Prescription
3. Feedback: Collaboration, Candor, and Autonomy
4. Trust and Interact vs. Trust but Verify
5. See the Forest and the Trees
6. Accountability as Culture
Examples of Natural Accountability Linked to Results
Case Example Nine: Strengthening Whole System Accountability
Case Example Ten: Integrating Accountability and Improvement
Culture Counts
Chapter 5. Nuanced Leaders and the World
More Macro
Learners and Change Agents: Attack Inequity and Thrive on Every Level
Being and Becoming a Nuanced Leader
About the Author
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Review quote

I get what [Fullan is] saying about nuance. I mean there are 5, 10, 15 different ways to do something; depending on a particular context, it's going to have a different result. I think [Fullan's] on to something really important. [This work] actually helped me get my head around what I have been doing with everyone in the Toronto District School Board. -- John Malloy, Director I have to say that reading this manuscript was like looking in the mirror and seeing something of myself that I hadn't noticed before, or valued before, or even been able to put language to. I feel simultaneously com-forted by what [Fullan has] written in that I feel validated and understood and even a bit more hopeful about myself, but it has also left me hungry for more. -- Marie-Claire Bretherton, Executive Head Teacher If you have been waiting to have your thinking on leadership provoked once again, Michael Fullan's latest book will not disappoint you. Nuance raises the bar and challenges thinking about leadership while providing those willing to work for it the concrete examples, actions, and steps necessary to do so. As followers of his work have come to expect, in Nuance, Fullan "leads from what he has learned" and artfully weaves together complex ideas into a pattern that accomplishes the "simplexity" that makes the seemingly impossible become possible. -- Laura Schwalm, Senior Partner Nuance is a powerful call for a different type of leadership-one that rejects the quick fixes, oppositional thinking, and superficial innovations that make no lasting impact on our most pressing and complex educational problems. In Nuance, Fullan provides a richly illustrated account of how nuanced leadership embraces complexity and integrates competing forces in ways that foster deep understanding, collaborative learning and accountability, and sustainable rather than superficial solutions. It's not a recipe; it's an inspiration and a call to action. -- Viviane Robinson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus I continue to be in awe that Michael Fullan is able to describe and explain so clearly the kind of leadership I am intuitively trying to do. Nobody else I have ever read can do this as well as he does. Fullan, more than anyone else, has given me the language for my leadership over the years. -- Steve Munby, Former CEO of National College for School Leadership, England Discover the subtle power of nuance leadership and get dramatic new results. A courageous and timely book that goes to the heart of our complex leadership times. Why do some leaders get extraordinary results while others, ostensibly doing the same things, simply replicate existing patterns? Blending experience and uncommon intellectual acuity, Fullan explains both the key connected dimensions and the exceptional leverage of nuance. -- Brendan Spillane, Leadership Consultant in Sports, Business, and Education Nuance is Fullan at his impressive best-enabling leaders to see what was under their nose with sharp action-oriented clarity. Contexts-of people, time, and place-are such key factors in managing change and here he uncovers the subtlety of "nuance," which is the essential bedfellow of "judgment" without which disaster will threaten any leader. Wise system leaders will buy a copy for all their school leaders and keep a copy for themselves. -- Tim Brighouse, England
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About Michael Fullan

Consulting Description
Consulting Description: Leadership

Michael Fullan, Order of Canada, is professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He served as special adviser in education to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty from 2003 to 2013, and now serves as one of four advisers to Premier Kathleen Wynne. Michael has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, University of Leicester, Nipissing University, Duquesne University, and The Hong Kong Institute of Education. He consults with governments and school systems in several countries.

Fullan has won numerous awards for his more than 30 books, including the 2015 Grawemeyer prize with Andy Hargreaves for Professional Capital. His books include the best sellers Leading in a Culture of Change, The Six Secrets of Change, Change Leader, All Systems Go, Motion Leadership, and The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact. His latest books are Evaluating and Assessing Tools in the Digital Swamp (with Katelyn Donnelly), Leadership: Key Competencies (with Lyle Kirtman), and Freedom to Change. To learn more, visit his website at

Now, Michael Fullan is offering his experience to you in an eStudy opportunity! Visit for more information.

Photo: Social Imagery
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