Appreciative Leadership:
Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance
and Build a Thriving Organization


Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom, Kae Rader.McGraw-Hill (2010), ISBN 0071714065Hardcover, $29.95.

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The practice of leadership is on the brink of a paradigm shift. It is moving from authoritarian to collaborative practices, from fear- based to strengths- based relationships, and from talking at people to dialoguing with them. Many smart, well-intended leaders know that the “command and control” leadership style they learned a generation ago no longer works. But they do not know how to manage differently.  Appreciative Leadership is the vanguard book that provides clear concepts and practical tools needed to lead in a way that brings forth the best and resonates with the hearts and minds of the people they lead.

This book is written by leading consultants, trainers and speakers in the growing organizational approach called Appreciative Inquiry. “Appreciative Inquiry” is the practice of dramatically improving performance by encouraging people to study, discuss, learn from, and build on what’s working rather than simply trying to fix what’s not working. It uses positive power as the key to building a thriving and successful organization.

Drawing from years of expertise and research, the authors have made tremendous strides in developing five strategies that turn potential into positive power for extraordinary performance:

Inquiry: Asking positively powerful questions. How managers ask questions matter—setting the agenda for dialogue and learning in their teams, organizations. Turn problems into positive questions, rather than ask “How can we reduce employee turnover?” the question should be “How can we improve upon employee retention?”

Illumination: Bringing out the best of people is potent positive power—shining a light on people’s strengths creates momentum and paves paths for ongoing high performance.

Inclusion: An organizational imperative to include voices previously not heard in the conversation. High performance and innovation depends on inviting multiple voices and opinions.

Inspiration: Inspiration moves people to action. Even when all the necessary resources are available, nothing changes and nothing of merit happens without inspiration. Inspiration encourages people to learn and to do what it takes to realize their dreams, achieve their goals and help others do the same. Inspiration sparks the fires of excellence.  It is the source of all achievement.

Integrity: This trump card goes beyond truth and honesty—you can harness positive power by being in service to the whole and a steward of the best interest of the whole.

Unique Insights: Appreciative Leadership is based on Corporation for Positive Change’s Appreciative Leadership Development Program© and trainer certification program, as well as six years of personal observation, appreciative interviews and focus groups with hundreds of people.

Concrete Takeaways and Practical Advice:

  • Appreciative Leadership is filled with great tips and sidebars with “Questions for Further Development” at the end of each chapter.
  • Shows how positive focus and values-based management can drive results.
  • Offers a practical guide to appreciative management, which includes a clear definition, five strategies and many examples.
  • Describes how to lay the strong foundation for positive organizational culture.


About the Authors


Diana Whitney Ph.D. is the President of Corporation for Positive Change, an international consulting firm specializing in the application of Appreciative Inquiry – the revolutionary process she helped develop and spread – to resolve the most pressing challenges of our time. In fields ranging from healthcare to education; from peace-building to business; from community development to government, Diana coaches executives and their teams in support of organization culture transformation, and strategic development. With over thirty years of experience, her clients include Merck, British Airways, Verizon, J&J, Calgary Health Region, University of Virginia Health System, Idaho Department of Education, and Sisters of Good Shepherd.

Diana is a Founder of the Taos Institute, a center for dialogue among family therapists, educators and organization consultants. She is a Fellow of the World Business Academy. She is a Distinguished Consulting Faculty at Saybrook University where she teaches and advises PhD students. She is an expert faculty for the NCR Picker Patient Centered Care Institute. Diana was also the President of the Philadelphia Chapter of SHRM.

Dr. Whitney received her Ph.D. from Temple University (1980) in the field of Organizational Communication. Her early research into the dissemination of educational innovations funded by the National Institute of Education created an agenda for the ongoing development of educational R&D laboratories throughout the United States.


Amanda Trosten-Bloom, Managing Director of Corporation for Positive Change, is a widely acclaimed consultant, master trainer and energizing speaker. She is a pioneer in the use of Appreciative Inquiry for high engagement, whole system change in business, nonprofit and community settings. Amanda builds results oriented partnerships with executives and their teams in support of strategic planning, culture change and organizational excellence. Her award-winning work in high tech, service, manufacturing, and municipal sectors has been prominently featured in dozens of books and articles.  She is the author of four books, including The Power of Appreciative Inquiry and The Encyclopedia of Positive Questions.

Kae Rader is President of Rader Consulting, LLC and a Consulting Partner with Corporation for Positive Change. Kae works with leadership teams to build collaborative cultures, formulate strategy, and develop operating plans that drive and reward performance. She advises nonprofit clients on governance best practices. She is a skilled facilitator and dynamic speaker. Kae has held senior management positions with the U.S. Olympic Committee, Indiana Sports Corporation, and El Pomar Foundation. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She can be reached at

Praise for Appreciative Leadership

“This book provides a practical guide for exercising principled leadership from any role in any organization, calling each of us to be a force for positive and sustainable change.”

Barton Alexander, VP,

Corporate Responsibility,

Molson Coors Brewing Company


“Building from a simple but powerful idea, Appreciative Leadership offers an approach to organizational transformation applicable to institutions as varied as businesses, universities, church bodies and health systems. The authors have packed this volume with dozens of stories and suggestions that translate the key insights into replicable strategies for action.”

Jane McAuliffe, President,

Bryn Mawr College


“Appreciative Leadership is a visionary, practical guide to transform the exhausted leadership models of the twentieth century into life enriching models to serve the flourishing of life in the twenty-first. Whether you lead a large organization or your own participation in the world, this book will guide you into the powerful heart of your potential as a leader of positive change for your own life, organization and the world we yearn to bring into being.”

Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs,

Executive Director, United Religions Initiative