Firing Back

How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Andrew Ward

Publisher: Harvard Business School, 2007, 306 pages

ISBN: 1-59139-301-9

Keywords: Human Resources

Last modified: March 28, 2012, 9:31 p.m.

Is it possible to rescue your career and restore your reputation after a major professional setback? In an age rife with press accounts of disgraced CEO’s, politicians, and celebrities-as well as courageous but beleaguered whistle-blowers and victims of rivalries or envious colleagues and bosses-this question has grown more important than ever.

In Firing Back, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward answer the question with a resounding “Yes”. They go on to lay out a practical and important five-step process for actually recovering from setbacks. Following these steps will help guise you through difficult circumstances, rebuild your reputation, and chart a new future. The authors also explore strategies for surmounting common barriers to career recovery, including tricky corporate cultures ad psychological stresses.

Anchored in decades of research and scholarly studies across multiple fields, this book is packed with engrossing stories and firsthand accounts from humbled but restored CEOs and executives from firms as diverse as General Electric, the Home Depot, Morgan Stanley, Apple, Staples, and Hewlett-Packard.

Firing Back offers a clear plan for anyone who needs to recover from a career setback and reclaim lost prestige and reputation-whether the setback stemmed from his own actions or forces outside her control.

  1. The Disappointment of Defeat or the Defeat of Disappointment
  2. Tragedies, Failures, and Setbacks — The Nature of Adversity
  3. Societal Barriers to Recovery
  4. Corporate Cultures as Barriers to Recovery
  5. Departure Causes as Barriers to Recovery
  6. Psychological Stresses as Barriers to Recovery
  7. Fight, Not Flight — Facing Up to the Issue
  8. Recruiting Others into Battle — Social Networks and Collateral Damage
  9. Rebuilding Heroic Stature
  10. Proving Your Mettle
  11. Rediscovering Heroic Mission
  12. Creating Triumph from Tragedy — Lessons Learned from Legends and Losers


Firing Back

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Disappointing *** (3 out of 10)

Last modified: March 28, 2012, 9:31 p.m.

This is a book with a message: Don't give up!

Does it have some practical advice for that? Yes: Fight back!

Interesting concept, extremely boring presented, with too short cases and extremely American outlook. Unless you're U.S. citizen and born and raised the American way, I can't frankly recommend this.


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