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Six Paths to Leadership book cover
June 2021
Palgrave MacMillan / Springer

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Six Paths to Leadership

Lessons from Successful Executives, Politicians, Entrepreneurs, and More
Mark A. Clark
Meredith Persily Lamel

Based on years of research and work with leaders across many paths, "Six Paths to Leadership" offers critical insights and strategies currently missing from the repertoire of leaders and their supporters, for managing across six distinct paths into leadership positions: Promoted (Insider), Hired (Outsider), Elected (Representative), Appointed (Proxy), Founder (Creator) and Family (Legacy). It illustrates lessons through themes, quotes and stories drawn from interviews with over 60 successful leaders. Leaders come to their positions from many directions: Some travel multiple leadership paths in their careers; others may choose one path early on; some change paths as they switch careers or as they become a first-time leader. The Six Paths framework makes a strong case that leadership is not “one- size-fits-all” for the person, the point of entry into their roles and for the organization. Understanding the important distinctions across the six leadership paths provides value for both emerging and experienced leaders. Considering the lessons from these paths will help leaders to be more effective from the first steps on their own path and the twists and turns that follow. Wherever you are in your leadership journey, the key insights offered in "Six Paths to Leadership" will help you navigate to your destination.


Mark A. Clark, ASU Class of 2001 (PhD, business administration) is professor and department chair with the Kogod School of Business, American University in Washington, D.C. Clark has expertise in high performing teams, leadership, diversity and strategic human capital. Before his PhD, Clark worked in consulting and community development.

Praise for this book

... a comprehensive compendium relevant to students, scholars and developing leaders, blending insights from real leaders that are missing from the traditional books used in leadership classes. Students and professors interested in developing leadership competencies, through bringing the “real world” of leadership into the classroom, will benefit greatly from the challenges, opportunities and strategies outlined in the book. Leadership researchers will benefit from examining the distinctions that leaders face across contexts. Every chapter provides insights that merit additional study.

Leanne E. Atwater, PhD
C.T. Bauer Professor of Leadership and Management, University of Houston

This is one of those rare books to keep on hand and return to frequently. Leadership is about making smart decisions and these trusted advisors provide just the right balance of theory and practice to guide you on your journey.

Amanda Renteria
CEO, Code for America; former COO California Department of Justice; former Senate Chief of Staff