An invitation and guide for leaders “to cast a courageous and imaginative vision, to lead resiliently, and to be present and steady in times of deep anxiety.”
Ed Friedman’s genius was to see the individual in the family in the larger group, bringing the wisdom of his experience as a therapist and rabbi to the field of organizational leadership.
A timeless bestseller, A Failure of Nerve still astonishes in this revised edition with its relevance and continues to transform the lives of leaders everywhere—business, church, family, schools—as it has for more than 20 years:
- Offers prescient guide to leadership in the age of “quick fix.”
- Provides ways to recognize and address organizational dysfunction.
- Emphasizes “strength over pathology” in these anxious times.
“The age that is upon us requires differentiated leadership that is willing to rise above the anxiety of the masses. We need leaders who will have the ‘capacity to understand and deal effectively’ with the hive mind that is us. This is, in Friedman's words, ‘the key to the kingdom.’ I am grateful for this accessible new edition.”
―C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Read the introduction
"The age that is upon us requires differentiated leadership that is willing to rise above the anxiety of the masses. We need leaders who will have the "capacity to understand and deal effectively" with the hive mind that is us. This is, in Friedman's words, 'the key to the kingdom.' I am grateful for this accessible new edition."
—C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Texas
"In seminary, I learned to exegete scripture, to craft a sermon, to think theologically. I did not learn how to lead a congregation. In A Failure of Nerve, Ed Friedman invites leaders to cast a courageous and imaginative vision, to lead resiliently, and to be present and steady in times of deep anxiety; qualities of leadership more urgently needed now than at any time in my memory. My students find excitement and energy in the adventure of leadership Ed invites us to embrace.
—Gina Campbell, Visiting Professor of Worship, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Adjunct Faculty, Center for Family Process
"Perhaps more than ever, we need to prepare ourselves for increasing our maturity, which means taking responsibility for our own emotional functioning. As Friedman's mentor, Murray Bowen, succinctly reminded us, 'If you lower anxiety one notch, it's a better world.' We all owe thanks to Edwin Friedman for helping us in this process."
— Peter L. Steinke, author of How Your Church Family Works and other books (from foreword)
Praise for the First Edition:
"A Failure of Nerve can be placed on the scales with every other book on leadership, without exception, that has been published in the last ten years, and it would outweigh them all together."
—Anglican Theological Review
“Friedman’s contribution to the field of leadership is unprecedented. He is a master at stimulating and motivating readers, whether they are consultants, CEOs, managers or ministers, to think about themselves and the systems in which they live and work.”
—Kathy K. Wiseman, MBA, Working Systems, Bowen Center for the Study of the Family
“Friedman's final book…is full of fascinating insights that will be exciting to people in diverse leadership roles.”
—Henry Simmons, President, National Coalition on Health Care
"A highly scholarly and academic perspective on common misperceptions and roadblocks to confronting difficult problems."
—The Midwest Book Review
"Friedman's insights have guided many Episcopal clergy and other religious and institutional leaders to make sense of odd and combative behavior offered by those they are trying to shepherd and lead. A Failure of Nerve deserves a slow read, for its lessons are rich but not quickly learned."
—The Living Church
“Leaders who seriously read this book will not only discover that they are healthier and more effective, but the communities they serve will find a clarity of purpose that is life renewing, whole, and faithful.”
—J. Neil Alexander, Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta