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Ego Free Leadership


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About the Author

Brandon Black
Brandon Black retired as the chief executive officer and director of Encore Capital Group in 2013. During his nine years as president and chief executive officer, the Company built significant cost and operational advantages, expanded into new asset classes, and made acquisitions that established Encore as the industry's leading debt management and recovery solutions provider. In 2011, Encore started the Consumer Credit Research Institute, a groundbreaking effort to develop new knowledge about low- and moderate-income consumers using state-of-the-art research and fieldwork techniques. In addition, in 2013, the Great Places to Work Institute ranked Encore's subsidiary in Gurgaon, India as the 14th best organization in the entire country.
Brandon earned an MBA from the University of Richmond and a bachelor's of business administration degree from The College of William and Mary.
He is currently the president of the board for the Country Montessori School and the chairman of the board for Santa Fe Christian Schools. He also serves as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for a foster youth.
Shayne Hughes
Shayne Hughes is president of Learning as Leadership, a culture change and leadership development firm serving the private and public sectors. His expertise in creating cultures of open communication and collaboration has led to substantial improvements in organizational and personal performance for such clients as Fairchild Semiconductor, NASA, Sandia National Laboratories, Shell Oil, and Capital One, among others. He is also experienced in the complex dynamics of family businesses.
Mr. Hughes has taught leadership at the University of California Berkeley's Haas School of Business, the University of Michigan's Executive MBA Program, and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. He is a frequent keynote speaker at many conferences and corporate retreats.
Fluent in French, Mr. Hughes earned his B.A. from the University of California Berkeley and completed graduate studies in group facilitation at the University of Tours in France. His writing has been published in Harvard's Du Bois Review, Diversity Executive magazine, Forbes.com, and Chief Executive magazine. He has been profiled in Psychology Today, and he blogs for the Huffington Post.
Mr. Hughes also authored the coming-of-age memoir When the Running Began, in which he shares authentically how the pains of his past became infused with substance abuse and the coping strategies of his ego, and what it took to grow beyond them.


Ego Free Leadership chronicles the dynamic struggle of a CEO as his executive coach helps him face his ego triggers. It is unabashedly authentic, with unbridled self-evaluation and unvarnished honesty.--Nigel Morris, Cofounder, Capital One

Brandon Black and Shayne Hughes have landed on a key insight: When leaders let go of ego, they unlock their potential. The story of how they improved culture and performance at Encore Capital is packed with useful lessons for coaches and leaders alike.

--Marshall Goldsmith, Executive Coach, Business Educator, and New York Times Best-selling Author, rank

An authentic read! I partnered with LaL to lead two large-scale organizational turnarounds: first as Center Director of NASA's Langley Research Center, and then later as VP for Operations of the contractor operating the Nevada National Security Site for the Nuclear Security Administration. LaL led both my leadership teams through profoundly successful cultural transformations that produced breakthrough business results. In reading Ego Free Leadership, I could easily replace Brandon's name with my own. This book captures the challenges--and solutions--of leading large scale change.

--Roy Bridges, Air Force Major General and Former Center Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center

The framework presented in Ego Free Leadership has had a profound influence on my research and teaching over the past fifteen years. I'm thrilled to see it finally brought to life in this captivating story of one CEO and his team's transformational leadership journey. This book is a must-read for any leader who wants to make a difference.

--Robin Ely, Professor and Faculty Chair, Gender Initiative, Harvard Business School

I'm a big admirer of the work that Shayne Hughes and the team at Learning as Leadership perform. The practices and concepts for 'going deep' in the realm of leadership development are world-class and life changing. What is really happening, inside and out, for a leader trying to create deep change in himself and his organization? And what is happening, inside and out, for the leadership coach who is trying to help him? This groundbreaking book answers those questions by bringing readers into both sides of a transformative relationship. Hughes' and Black's story is instructive, rewarding, and inspiring.

--Robert Kegan, Meehan Research Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development

This gripping story is propelled forward by the alternating perspectives of a CEO's candid rendition of his and the company's journey and of a deeply insightful executive coach. Black and Hughes share insights and tools that helped change the company--as well as Black's life. The book immediately had me thinking of situations I am dealing with as a leader and how I might manage them (and myself!) differently.

--Jeff Bradach, CEO, Bridgespan

Black and Hughes offer an indispensable introduction into the power of authentic, ego-free leadership and the impact this can have on creating truly inspired organizations. If you can't attend a Learning as Leadership course or get Shayne as an executive coach, this book is the next best thing!

--Lee Rivas, President, Elsevier and LexisNexis Health
Ego Free Leadership provides a blueprint for transforming you and your organization. Filled with practical, real-life examples, the authors walk you through a process that surfaces the pain points leaders and organizations have and provides counterintuitive ways to resolve or even transcend them. Anyone can benefit, regardless of culture or background.--Martin N. Davidson, Johnson and Higgins Professor of Business, Darden Graduate School of Business

Hughes and Black do an outstanding job of bringing the power of the Learning as Leadership methodology to life in this captivating and authentic account of a CEO's journey for true leadership excellence.

--Steve Macadam, President and CEO, EnPro Industries

Learning as Leadership has had a profound impact on the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and on me personally as well as professionally. Reading Brandon Black and Shayne Hughes' account of one CEO's experience with the program deeply resonated with my own, and I highly recommend anyone interested in building strong, resilient leadership teams to pick up this book immediately.

--Nancy Roob, President and CEO, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

Black and Hughes use real-life challenges to illustrate how the ego gets in the way of effective leadership and teamwork. Ego Free Leadership is an invaluable read for anyone interested in building a successful leadership team or organization.

--Kevin Pearson, Vice-Chairman, M&T Bank

This book is an engaging and entertaining read, and much more. It reveals wise and powerful insights about how, despite our best intentions, we can be the biggest obstacles to our own success and the success of those around us.

--Jennifer Crocker, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Social Psychology, Ohio State University
Ego Free Leadership tells a powerful story of how vulnerability brings us closer to our people, teams, and goals. Hughes and Black offer a wealth of insights to business leaders seeking growth in themselves and their organizations!--Skip Potter, Chief Technology Officer, Nike

In Ego Free Leadership, Black and Hughes take us through one CEO's successful, inspiring, and instructive journey towards taking responsibility for his own messes. We learn how he put his ego in the service of, rather than in the way of, creating the kind of high-performance, mutually supportive organization to which we all aspire. Damn. I wish they had written it (and I had read it) decades ago.

--Marty Linsky, Harvard Kennedy School; Coauthor of Leadership on the Line

Another self-absorbed CEO with a management guru--what could I possibly learn? Don't let your ego get in the way! Black, Hughes, and Encore's bumpy yet remarkable journey provides unvarnished insights and lessons for all of us as we seek personal, leadership, and business development. I benefited yesterday and I will benefit today.

--Scott Huennekens, President and CEO, Verb Surgical Inc.
Ego Free Leadership brings fresh insights into what it means to lead, how we can get in our own way, and how we might help others develop their leadership. Even more, Black and Hughes deliver specific tools for attacking our worst ego-based problems, helping us become better leaders for our teams and organizations.--Susan J. Ashford, Professor of Management and Organizations, Stephen M. Ross School of Business
Ego Free Leadership tells a fascinating, real life saga about how our ego traps us in a prison. So many of us significantly underestimate how our ego hijacks our leadership and organizations, causing us to accomplish much less than we could otherwise.--George McCown, Cofounder and Operating Director, American Infrastructure Funds

Organizations fail when the ego needs of its leaders hijack its mission. In this compelling, true account, the CEO of a company on the verge of failure is guided through the deep learning that saves his leadership and his enterprise. A powerful, practical story of egos tamed and an organization resurrected.

--Harry Spence, Former Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Social Services

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