I have it at last. After many, many months of hard work shared among a great team of people, a hard copy of The ASTD Leadership Handbook has landed with a weighty thud on my desk. It's a handsome, authoritative-looking book: red-and-white dust cover, gray cloth with silver embossing, gray end papers, Smyth-sewn so it falls open nicely without cracking the spine.

And the content is even more impressive than the package: Elaine Biech edited 33 chapters by 48 authors on a wide variety of topics (to see the full contents, get a sample chapter, and download tools contributed by the authors, check out theASTD Leadership Handbook webpage).

But why does leadership matter? Well, here's my take. For years, people have talked about the rapid changes that we experience on a daily basis, but I suspect that the changes we have seen to date are only the tip of the iceberg. The rise of social media, radical generational shifts, and failures of the business models that have been in use are just a few of the pressures that are transforming the way people work and live. Because they shatter old command-and-control models and allow people to connect directly with other people, Web 2.0 technologies in particular have the potential to re-form human knowledge and society in a way we haven't seen since the invention of the printing press in 1440. The speed of this change can be overwhelming and hard to keep up with. That's why leadership is and will continue to be so important. Leadership keeps people moving together in the same direction. Leadership enables people to feel as though their efforts are contributing toward a greater vision, rather than flailing along without much impact. In short, leadership makes the things that people do count.

The ASTD Leadership Handbook addresses the need for current and future leaders to learn the nuts and bolts of leadership and to adapt to the requirements of the future. And it does more than that. It provides information that any of us might need to succeed in the workplace, such as critical communication skills, influence tactics, how to avoid getting derailed, and more. It's also just plain interesting to read. You can flip to any chapter in the book, read something that will make you think, and learn a lesson that you will want to apply immediately.

It's available for purchase now at the ASTD Store. If you want some more goodies from the book, follow ASTD Press on Twitter and Facebook. We will be tweeting and posting tips from the book all week long!