Using the story/parable format so popular these days, Leadership and Self-Deception takes a novel psychological approach to leadership. It's not what you do that matters, say the authors (presumably plural--the book is credited to the esteemed Arbinger Institute), but why you do it. Latching onto the latest leadership trend won't make people follow you if your motives are selfish--people can smell a rat, even one that says it's trying to empower them. The tricky thing is, we don't know that our motivation is flawed. We deceive ourselves in subtle ways into thinking that we're doing the right thing for the right reason. We really do know what the right thing to do is, but this constant self-justification becomes such an ingrained habit that it's hard to break free of it--it's as though we're trapped in a box, the authors say.
Learning how the process of self-deception works--and how to avoid it and stay in touch with our innate sense of what's right--is at the heart of the book. We follow Tom, an old-school, by-the-book kind of guy who is a newly hired executive at Zagrum Corporation, as two senior executives show him the many ways he's "in the box," how that limits him as a leader in ways he's not aware of, and of course how to get out. This is as much a book about personal transformation as it is about leadership per se. The authors use examples from the characters' private as well as professional lives to show how self-deception skews our view of ourselves and the world and ruins our interactions with people, despite what we sincerely believe are our best intentions.
While the writing won't make John Updike lose any sleep, the story entertainingly does the job of pulling the reader in and making a potentially abstruse argument quite enjoyable. The authors have a much better ear for dialogue than is typical of the genre (the book is largely dialogue), although a certain didactic tone creeps in now and then. But ultimately it's a hopeful, even inspiring read that flows along nicely and conveys a message that more than a few managers need to hear. --Pat McGill
"... not just another book on leadership. It identifies the central issue of all performance. I recommend it very highly." -- Brad Pelo, President and CEO, NextPage
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"... shows why the truth about failure is so difficult to see, and explains how to overcome such self-deception." -- Dave Checketts, President and CEO, Madison Square Garden Corp.
"Arbinger taught our leadership team at LensCrafters and the difference...was remarkable. This is the...key to productivity and creativity." -- Dave Browne, former President and CEO, LensCrafters
"Don't be fooled by the title--this book is for everyone. I can't think about my life the same way again." -- Jack Anderson, Syndicated Columnist and Pulitzer Prize Winner
"Fascinating, thought provoking, and insightful! Once I started reading, I couldnt put it down." -- Steven C. Wheelwright, Professor and Senior Associate Dean, Harvard Business School
"From boosting the bottom line to increasing personal joy, this book shows the way." -- Bruce L. Christensen, former President and CEO, PBS
"I love this book. Like truth itself, it reveals more with each re-examination. I recommend it highly." -- Doug Hauth, Sales Vice President, Lucent Technologies
"I've known the work of the Arbinger Institute for years. Arbinger's ideas are profound, with deep and sweeping implications for organizations. Leadership and Self-Deception provides the perfect introduction to this material. It is engaging and fresh, easy to read, and packed with insight. I couldn't recommend it more highly." -- Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
"This is significant, original stuff. This book is a terrific introduction to Arbinger's groundbreaking material. I enjoyed it immensely." -- Robert C. Gay, Managing Director, Bain Capital