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About Gary Burnison
Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry. Under his leadership, Korn Ferry has been transformed to a global organizational consulting firm with more than 7,500 colleagues.
Today Korn Ferry works with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. The firm helps organizations hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. The firm also helps professionals navigate and advance their careers.
Burnison brings hands-on experience to his current position, having served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for Korn Ferry from 2003-2007. He joined Korn Ferry as Chief Financial Officer in 2002. Prior to Korn Ferry, Burnison was Principal and Chief Financial Officer of Guidance Solutions, a privately held consulting firm developing and supporting technology solutions, from 1999 to 2001. Before Guidance Solutions, Burnison served as a senior executive officer and director of Jefferies & Company, Inc., the principal operating subsidiary of Jefferies Group, Inc., where he worked from 1995 to 1999. Earlier, he served as partner at KPMG Peat Marwick from 1984 to 1995.
Burnison is the author of seven leadership and career development books, including a New York Times bestseller. His latest book, Leadership U: Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve, helps leaders activate their teams amid unprecedented challenges and change. Other books authored by Burnison include Advance: The Ultimate How-To Guide For Your Career, Lose the Resume, Land the Job, No Fear of Failure: Real Stories of How Leaders Deal with Risk and Change, LEAD, The Leadership Journey: How to Master the Four Critical Areas of Being a Great Leader and The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership.
Burnison writes regular content focused on the intersection of strategy, talent and leadership, including his widely-read weekly “Special Editions” for global leaders. He is also a regular contributor to CNBC and other major media outlets.
Burnison earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Southern California and holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Pepperdine University.
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Books By Gary Burnison
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The how-to guide for your career
In his previous book, Lose the Resume, Land the Job, author Gary Burnison exposed the myths and the ineffective thinking around how to land the job you really want. Now, in Advance, he takes readers through the next stage—advancing in their careers.
Advance is extremely timely and topical in today's do-it-yourself career development world. Average job tenure has fallen to about four years on average and often only one or two years for younger professionals. These "career nomads" simply aren't around long enough to access career development from their employers. On the other end of the workplace spectrum, many employees find themselves stuck in one job without a promotion, without any raise to speak of, and with no opportunities to learn and grow.
In Advance, Burnison lays out a mosaic of "how-to" advice that applies every day and at every level—the skills and behaviors that help people navigate their careers and stand out among the crowd. He takes on a "Top 20" of career must-haves: managing for the first time, engaging in the "money conversation" with your boss, dealing with difficult bosses (without quitting), coping with coworkers (without losing your mind), making presentations (that don't put people to sleep), mastering digital communication (and avoiding emails that will get you fired), thinking globally (without leaving your office), taking an overseas assignment, meeting senior leaders for the first time (without putting your foot in your mouth), navigating political waters (without sinking your career), reading and fitting in with the culture, and more.
• Wisdom on taking your career to the next level
• Career development tips
• Guidance on being seen and heard
• Written by the CEO of one of the world’s largest management consulting firms
Whether you’re just starting your career, high up on the ladder, or “stuck” anywhere in between, Advance gives you the know-how to get on a path to where you want to go.
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"'Lose the Résumé' breaks down every aspect of job hunting, explaining what matters and what doesn’t." – The New York Times Book Review
Lose the resume and land that coveted job
Gone are the days of polishing up your resume and sending it out at random. At every level today, you need to “lose the resume” in order to land the right job. In other words, you have to learn to tell a story about yourself that speaks to your competencies, purpose, passion, and values. Lose the Resume, Land the Job shares the new rules of engagement: How you must think, act, and present yourself so you can win.
Based on inner exploration drawn from the IP of the world's largest executive recruiting firm, the book gleans insights and stories (the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly) from Korn Ferry recruiters across the globe who work with thousands of candidates each day. It helps you gain a deeper perspective on who you are, what you’re passionate about, the cultures in which you fit, the kind of bosses you should work for, and where you can bring the most value to organizations.
• Includes assessments, questionnaires, and other tools
• Candid advice for young professionals through middle managers
• Offers trusted guidance from the same firm that has shown 8 million executives how to achieve their career goals, and that puts a professional in new job every three minutes
• Helps you build a plan for the future so you can contribute more to the next employer
Getting a job and, more importantly, building a career has never been more complex. Lose the Resume, Land the Job helps you score the positions that align with your passion and match your attributes — and that will put you on a trajectory toward bigger and better things.
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Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve
Leadership is all about others—inspiring them to believe, then enabling that belief to become reality. That’s the essence of Leadership U: it starts with ‘U’ but it’s not about ‘U.’
Those timeless words are timelier than ever today, as leaders look to accelerate through the crisis curve. As author Gary Burnison observes, “There will likely be more change in the next two years than we have seen in the last twenty.”
Now, in Leadership U: Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve, Burnison lays out a framework—his “Six Degrees of Leadership”—to show leaders how to create change.
Anticipate – foreseeing what lies ahead, amid ambiguity and uncertainty that are throttled up like never before
Navigate – course-correcting in real time, to keep the organization on an even keel
Communication – constantly connecting with others; the leader is both the messenger and the message
Listen – breaking down the organizational hierarchy to gather insights at all levels—especially what the leader doesn’t want to hear
Learn – applying learning agility, to “know what to do when you don’t know what to do”
Lead – empowering others in a bottom-up culture that is more nimble, agile, innovative, and entrepreneurial than ever before.
Only by embracing these truths can leaders master another ‘U’—the “crisis curve” that will completely disrupt the business landscape. The world has changed—forever. The old days are fine to reminiscence about, but you can’t stay there.
Today leadership means becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. As Burnison says, when a door closes, leaders cannot afford to stand there, staring at it. It’s a “get up or give up” moment. For leaders, the only choice is to find and open another door. Leadership U defines and inspires the pathway through that door.
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Five simple qualities that captures the essence of outstanding leadership today
In today’s world, leadership is all about establishing community and connectivity so everyone can be part of something bigger than themselves. To have the grace to create this kind of leadership, we need greater self-awareness and genuine connection to others.
In The Five Graces of Life and Leadership, CEO of the celebrated consulting firm Korn Ferry delivers a meaningful and thought-provoking exploration of leadership, emphasizing the five kinds of grace that leaders absolutely must have to lead their teams in today’s evolving workscape. In the book, you’ll learn how to the best leaders make their teams feel comforted, safe, and secure that they’re headed in the right direction. It includes insightful discussions on each of the five indispensable graces, including:
- Gratitude—the attitude that elevates our spirits, boosts morale, and lifts our hearts
- Resilience—the quality that allows us to achieve beyond our wildest dreams
- Aspiration—the knowledge that we can make tomorrow better than today
- Courage—the ability to understand and move beyond our fears
- Empathy—the understanding needed to connect with others from their perspectives
The perfect book for managers, executives, and other business leaders doing their best to lead their teams through some of the most rapidly changing business and social environments we’ve seen in our lifetimes, The Five Graces of Life and Leadership is a can’t miss book on the human side of leadership at work, at home and anywhere else.
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The Leadership Journey charts a course through four critical areas of being a great leader. Written by Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison, this book brings world-renown people and talent development expertise to bear in a discussion about 'good' versus 'great' leadership. Successful leadership at any level is about getting results, but how do the best of the best manage to consistently deliver bigger and better things? This book shares the 'secret sauce' of successful leadership, and provides an actionable framework for discovering—and developing—your own leadership skills and potential. Anyone can have the right hands-on skills, but true leadership finesse lies in the much tougher realm of developing self-awareness to lead yourself first ('Look in the Mirror'); navigating by a fixed point of personal and organizational purpose ('Embody Purpose'); journeying with others who want to follow you ('Don't Walk Alone'); and plotting a course that's beyond the line of sight of what everyone sees ('Navigate Beyond the Horizon'). By distilling the broad and complex topic of leadership into highly accessible points and discussions, The Leadership Journey is perfect traveling companion for everyone along the leadership path.
Effective leaders help people do more—and become more—than even they ever thought possible. This book gives you a practical framework for becoming the kind leader your team needs to succeed.
- Master the key elements of great leadership
- Understand why hard skills aren't enough
- Learn how to motivate and lead others
- Achieve more by helping others inspire and empower themselves
Grounded in practical and proven real-world experience, this invaluable guide packs a powerful punch. When it comes to great leadership, reaching your destination requires a precise, well-planned journey that covers all critical ground. The Leadership Journey gives you a clear roadmap with expert direction and world-class advice.
Lead is a different kind of book. Rather than being the “last word” on leading others, it is meant to be the “first word”—an invitation to the reader to reflect on what the leadership journey means to each and every individual.
At its core, Lead will benefit anyone who seeks to inspire, influence, or lead others, whether they are coaches, teachers, pastors, community organizers, politicians—or are in the C-suite.
Lead offers an exploration of the essential elements of leadership, which author Gary Burnison defines as: purpose, strategy, people, measure, empower, reward, anticipate, navigate, communicate, listen, and learn—all of which culminate in leading. Instead of taking the left-brain approach of “paradigm shifts” and “leadership models,” the author focuses on right-brain constants such as emotional connection, compassion, focusing on others, humility, and managing oneself. Lead readers will find inspiring stories, easy to digest analogies, reflective exercises and evocative images meant to give them pause, draw them in, and encourage introspection.
ALL IN, ALL THE TIME
For Gary Burnison, CEO of the world’s largest executive search firm, these five simple words perfectly capture the essence of great leadership. There can be no half measures. Complete commitment, total engagement, and a powerful sense of personal responsibility are the criteria for true leadership excellence. It’s more than a job; it’s a way of life. But how do you get there? In this groundbreaking book, Burnison provides the answer.
As the leader of Korn/Ferry International, Burnison is particularly well qualified to write a guide to effective leadership. On a personal level, he experiences every day what it’s like to be responsible for the lives of others, the careers of his employees, and the expectations of stakeholders. He also deals one-on-one with some of the world’s top leaders.
In The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership, Burnison distills this vast experience into an actionable plan for building world-class leadership skills. You’ll learn how to train your focus on the twelve most critical elements of leadership, so you can
- Establish your vision and develop a strategy for achieving it
- Inspire your people to embrace the change you envision
- Measure the effectiveness of your leadership
- Build powerful teams that are aligned in purpose and strategy
- Foresee new opportunities and adjust your course to meet them
Nothing in business or life generates greater personal satisfaction than affecting peoples’ lives in a positive way through excellent leadership. Burnison refers to it as the “eighth wonder of the world.”
The prospect might seem daunting, but Burnison makes it more accessible than you thought possible. He presents a framework based on enduring human truths, which is applicable in every leadership role and arena. All you have to do is apply it with dedication and determination.
You have the ability. Take your first steps to leadership excellence with The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership.
Praise for The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership:
“In The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership, Gary Burnison captures the timeless principles that leaders must possess, beyond intelligence, courage and heart. These essential elements speak to the integrity and authenticity that underscore all effective leadership.”
—Carlos Slim, entrepreneur, Investor, and the world’s richest man
“Only a few good leaders have paused to reflect seriously on being leaders. Xenophon and Ulysses S. Grant did, and now Gary Burnison can be added to the list. This is not a business book. This is a book about the business of life.”
—P.J. O’Rourke, political satirist, journalist, and author
“Gary Burnison has distilled leadership into its essential elements—the absolute truths about leadership that apply in every arena. For those who want to know what leadership is all about, this book has the answers.”
—Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Franklin “Buster” Hagenbeck
“Leadership is the most important ingredient in any successful organization. Gary Burnison explores the essential elements of leadership through conversations with some of the world’s most seasoned and accomplished leaders.”
—Eli Broad, founder of The Broad Foundations, KB Home, and SunAmerica
”Gary Burnison’s wisdom and insight cut straight to the h
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No Fear of Failure offers insightful, candid conversations with some of the world's top leaders in business, politics, education, and philanthropy—each giving a first-person account of how they approached crucial, career defining moments. Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International, the world's largest executive recruiting firm, sits down one-on-one with a highly select and elite corps, and together they openly discuss how they handled (often very publicly) war, economic downturn, corporate turnover, and even retirement. Together these world-class leaders show the risks one must be willing to take, as well as the vision, resilience, and compassion necessary to lead.
- Includes original interviews with Michael Bloomberg, Carlos Slim, Eli Broad, Indra Nooyi, Drew Gilpin Faust, Anne Mulcahy, Vincente Fox, Lt. General Franklin L. "Buster" Hagenbeck, Coach John McKissick, Liu Chuanzhi, Daniel Vasella, and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo
- Explores the common traits great leaders exhibit: vision, compassion, resilience, competitiveness, purpose, humility, team-building skills, entrepreneurial spirit, perseverance, self-awareness, empowerment, and being a catalyst
Taking readers into executive suites, government offices, battlefields, and football fields, No Fear of Failure shows how great leaders make lasting impact.
- #7 New York Times Best Seller (Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous)
- #13 New York Times Best Seller (Hardcover Business)
- #5 Wall Street Journal Best Seller (Hardcover Business)
- #3 USA Today Best Seller (Money)
- #17 Publishers Weekly Best Seller (Hardcover Nonfiction)