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Hostage At The Table’ by George Kohlrieser – Book Review

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In a culture where the majority is hostile to accept women in leadership roles, it was an uphill task to be part of an organisation which was going through a major change. I found myself in conflicting situations and this is where the bookHostage At The Table’ by George Kohlrieser – former hostage negotiator – came to rescue me.

Women in leadership roles face multiple challenges and so I always have a strict recipe to keep myself strong and determined. And one of the essential rituals of success for me is READING. I was so frustrated with dealing with conflicts that were merely based on ego and resistance towards women leaders that I felt myself indulging into arguments, arrogance that were framing me as an obstinate leader. This was something I wanted to nip in the bud before it gets bigger enough to destroy me as a leader.

Kohlrieser’s book is a perfect read for leaders who want to overcome conflict, influence others and raise performance. As I was reading it, I could relate myself to many situations in which, if I had dealt differently, created room for dialogue, I would have won not only as a leader but evolve as a better human being.


But what leads leaders to frustration?

It has been observed that a leader is continuously striving for her/his teams to win, take the organisation to next level of expertise and yield profitable results. But in the process a leader’s energy is vulnerable to worn out. And it happens just as the leader loses the connection with one’s own self. To keep up with the growing challenges of leadership, it is extremely important to recognise the power of the bonding cycle and the ability to turn failure back into success.


The party is not over, take care of yourself 

My most favourite part in this book was when George Kohlreiser wrote ‘we can try to live our lives with the motto: “THE PARTY’S NOT OVER, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF”‘.

What he meant is that we must avoid victimisation of our own self by living in a vibrant and energetic way. Rather than using our energy in casting ourselves as a hostage to failures, fears, arguments, conflicts, we must find the will to keep going and bounce back to bond again. It is up to us to honour our own legacies, even to grieve for some of what we have lost, and then to reconnect with what is ultimately important. This is what he calls as the BONDING CYCLE.



And how does Bonding Cycle amps our influence as a leader?

Bonding enables us to engage with the people and the world around us; it’s a process that lays the foundations for a successful outcome to any dispute or confrontation. If we become hostage to conflicts or resistance from others, we, as leaders would burn out and leave ourselves in despair and depression. It is very human that when people lose something important to them – and in leadership this is the ability of influencing others and resolving conflicts – triggers a state of despair in which they say “I will not bond again, I will never be comforted again”. To pull out of this state of despair, we must tune ourselves to accept the fact that any bond can be broken so we must take care of ourselves by being able to reconnect with the world and believe in our goals.



How did this book guide me towards a different level of leadership? 

In a culture where the majority is hostile to accept women in leadership roles, it was a challenging task to be part of an organisation that was going through a major change. I found myself in conflicting situations.

But as I was finishing this book, I immediately started to look for answers to some very honest questions:

How do I handle separation, disappointment, rejection & failure?

– How easily would I re-bond to create harmony after the change / loss?


What I realised is that people can deal with negative news; what they cannot deal with is an extended period of “not-knowing“. If they don’t know what the change means to them personally they are simply unable to progress through the stages of bonding cycle, find resolution and seek new attachments.


THE PARTY’S NOT OVER, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF was like a magical music that touched every inch of my soul and made me realise that I have to take care of myself by not becoming hostage to the fear of rejection or conflicts. And I need to use the bonding cycle of connecting with my team, making them aware of the changes and successfully navigate through change initiatives, whether they involve small or large scales.


So my take-home message from George Kohlrieser’s Hostage At The Table’ is the following:

DON’T be a hostage to any situation, loss or conflict and DO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF by continuously strengthening the bond by inspiring & motivating, first your own self, and then it will automatically have its effects on your teams, communities and families.

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Nageen Riffat
Nageen Riffat currently resides in Dubai, U.A.E., as an entrepreneur of Perfectibilist International ( Fashion Consultancy House). She has been on key positions in Pakistan representing the top US and HKG based multinational companies. She is also the Pakistan Chapter Leader and active member of Single Mom Movement, USA. Nageen has a passion for writing and coaching people in building their careers and live fuller lives. She is also a life coach and business trainer at Gallivant Solutions Inc., USA. Currently her book “Staple From The Deep” is in publication stage.

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