Praise for Ken Wilcox’s Leading Through Culture

"What is so refreshing about Ken Wilcox’s book is the open manner in which he writes – that there is never a hint of the typical superficiality that bogs down similar books. His well-defined humor and compassion are on full display and the images he conjures up are simply compelling. This is clearly not a vanity project or a cunningly constructed monument to his past. Wilcox is merely having a lively and earnest conversation with the reader. Kindly offering up pearls and challenging his audience to dig deeper."
San Francisco Book Review - Read the full review

“This excellent, insightful book examines the relationship between organizational culture and leadership. It’s superbly written and reflects a lifetime of executive accomplishments as well as keen insight into human nature. Ken Wilcox offers readers a rare treat: experience as a CEO combined with a scholarly grasp of the subject matter. He is both a practitioner and a theorist, and the book reflects these two attributes. My undergraduate, graduate, and executive students have found it extremely valuable, as have I.”
Daniel J. Julius, visiting fellow, SOMRES research and teaching unit, Yale University School of Management

“Leadership is like running a restaurant: it sounds easier than it is, and everyone thinks they can do it without thinking. Ken Wilcox’s book is the most straightforward explanation I’ve seen that leadership is exercised through the culture you create and how exactly you create that culture. We all may not be able to run a successful restaurant, but we all are able to step into a leadership role by understanding the tenets of this book.”
Felda Hardymon, professor of management practice (retired), Harvard Business School; general partner, Bessemer Venture Partners

“This thoughtful, step-by-step guide to effective leadership makes a compelling case that there is nothing more fundamental to the success of any organization than its culture. Having watched Silicon Valley Bank evolve over more than 20 years, I know that Ken Wilcox got it right. The author shares his process and the lessons he learned along the way, including his transition to an outstanding successor. His humility and his admission to a variety of missteps sets this book apart. I wish that every CEO and all those who aspire to lead would read this book. I am certain that they will be enriched.”
Pete Hart, former chairman, Silicon Valley Bank; former CEO, Advanta; former CEO, MasterCard International; etc.

“A gift to readers and leaders alike. Ken unwraps valuable culture change insights through engaging storytelling, simplicity, and humor. This book is a must-read for leaders, seasoned or aspiring, who desire to positively impact their own organizations.”
Sheri Benson, business counselor, Iowa State University SBDC, Ivy College of Business

“Ken brings an academic’s discipline to bear, but more importantly, a depth of understanding grounded in real-life interpersonal dust-ups.”
Dave Fischer, managing partner, Gold Hill Capital

“A playbook on how to build winning teams… and how not to. Ken writes from the authority of being the CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s most admired institutions. Chock-full of sage and practical advice, this book is a pageturner— which is almost unheard of in the genre of management books. A must-read for anybody leading an organization.”
Michael Moe, CEO and founder, GSV; author, Finding the Next Starbucks and the Mission Corporation

“Ken knows how to turn a phrase with great historical and cultural context to show time-tested principles of leadership while navigating a multicultural landscape.”
Zoot Velasco, director, Gianneschi Center for Nonprofit Research, California State University Fullerton College of Business and Economics

“I was shocked to read Ken’s book because almost everything he wrote about managing a bank in America, I experienced when growing a business in China. In Ken’s pages, any entrepreneur—past or present, aspiring or accomplished— will find echoes that relate directly to their professional life. Ken’s book is the perfect companion to leaders of any shape or form, reminding you that you are not alone, and showing how to lead by example and from the heart to serve the needs of others. Warning: Do not read before going to bed—you won’t be able to put it down!”
Mei Zhang, founder, WildChina

“This book brought back many fond memories I had of working with Ken over many years. I continue to utilize many of the culture and leadership principles Ken describes and, although biased, feel they’re best practices. An engaging, funny, direct, and thoughtful read.”
Greg Becker, CEO, Silicon Valley Bank

“Using a combination of time-tested leadership principles and insights from the field, Ken Wilcox shows how to lead change in a cross-cultural environment, drive innovation, and deliver results. It’s a must-read for anyone responsible for a team’s performance.”
Ejaj Ahmad, president and founder, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center

“Ken’s powerful insight on good leaders being focused on the welfare of their people is critical to how we lead at Oakland University.”
Michael Mazzeo, dean, Oakland University School of Business Administration

“Ken Wilcox shares his experiences leading teams to meet performance expectations by reducing his techniques to simple applications supported by leadership theory. Ken shares real examples of how leaders drive organizational culture and provides insight that can easily be put into practice. Ken’s premise is spot on: strong organizational cultures are realized when team members understand their purpose, share the organization’s values, and feel supported by leaders who effectively decide, motivate, communicate, and envision.”
Kristen Migliano, PhD, associate professor of leadership and management, Lynn University; founder and lead consultant, KQ Coaching

“Leading Through Culture asks the hard question up front: Do you have a vision, or do you just want to be in charge? Ken Wilcox reminds us that leadership is not just a title, but a commitment to deliberate and thoughtful practices that inspire people. He calls on us to start with ourselves and model the behaviors we value and want people in our organizations to follow. The book offers practical, tested leadership fundamentals that create a ‘how-to guide’ for the new leader or an opportunity for self-reflection for the experienced leader. In today’s complex and constantly changing world, I value the common sense approach outlined in this book and have been sharing it with other leaders.”
Stacy M. Pell, head of employee pandemic response, Human Resources, Silicon Valley Bank

“A positive organizational culture is important in normal times. In tougher times, keeping your team together and inspired is even more crucial. I highly recommend Leading Through Culture. Every new founder or CEO should read this book as a prerequisite to taking investor dollars.”
Arman Zand, lecturer, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; CFO, Prodigy

“Reading and frequent reference to Leading Through Culture is like a rich conversation with Ken. You come away with clear, practical, and actionable recommendations. The organizational culture you create will ALWAYS trump your strategy.”
Glen Simmons, former head of Human Resources, Silicon Valley Bank, REI, etc.

“Ken Wilcox gets right to the heart of the matter: leadership is not for everyone. From the very first chapter, Wilcox challenges the reader with a series of tough, direct questions: Do you have a vision, or do you just like to be in charge? Are you skilled in communicating your vision in a way that really inspires people and captures their imagination? And, perhaps most importantly, do you genuinely care about the people you are leading? If you pass this leadership litmus test, then you will find Leading Through Culture an incredibly powerful—and practical—resource for building your own winning company culture. I highly recommend this book to all aspiring leaders and especially to entrepreneurs building their first company.”
Michael Dunne, CEO, ZoZoGo LLC; author, American Wheels, Chinese Roads; creator, Winning In Asia Podcast

“[This] book is different from the rest because its priorities are different. Vastly different and a great deal more meaningful.... [Ken Wilcox] reminds the reader that kindness is a wonderful and desirable instrument for building up a workplace network. That winning comes from lifting up others and forming trust among colleagues. That it doesn’t have to be the stereotype of dog eat dog. That you can be human and share the process with others.”
Robert Buccellato, San Francisco Book Review

“The author draws liberally on his own experiences, citing numerous examples of what to do and, perhaps more importantly, what not to do. Much of his advice is specific and actionable; for instance, he provides six recommendations for what kind of people to hire, engages in a captivating discussion about “the spectrum of human behavior,” enumerates “The Magic 12” (a list of 12 ways to cultivate trust), and shares “The Four Ds,” a useful process for making decisions. Part 3 of the book, “Accomplishing Great Things: Revolutionary Leadership,” is a journey into more ambitious, cutting-edge goals. A chapter on managing change demonstrates the author’s deep understanding of organizational behavior…. Wilcox’s perceptive observations about building a “shared culture” should prove invaluable to any leader who has global responsibilities. Throughout the book, he looks back over his senior executive experience with a critical eye, unafraid to reveal his own shortcomings. That, writes the author, is exactly what a great leader should do.”
Kirkus Reviews - Read the full review