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The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Building Inner Excellence Hardcover – August 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (August 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470372265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470372265
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book is terrific – it identifies an important issue for leaders, and tackles it in a very practical way, with plenty of techniques to choose from and many examples of them being used successfully. We all struggle with our inner elephant, and if you want to help get more control by your inner executive, this book would definitely help." (Globe and Mail, September 2010)

From the Inside Flap

"Kings, heads of government, and corporate executives have control over thousands of people and endless resources, but often do not have mastery over themselves. From a distance, larger-than-life leaders may look firmly in control of their businesses and their personal behavior. What about up close? Personal mastery is a difficult thing."—from Chapter One

Leaders know what they should be doing, so why aren't they doing it? When a leader knows the preferable behavior, why stick to an old pattern and fail to perform as desired? The answer is that each of us has two selves: one self is thoughtful, circumspect, and rational (the inner executive), and the other self is habit bound, impulsive, and emotion driven (the inner elephant). In this groundbreaking book, leadership expert Richard Daft reveals how leaders can recognize the two parts of themselves and learn to calm down, train, and guide their inner elephant toward the desired successful behavior.

Inner excellence means removing the personal flaw that is holding you back as a leader—such as procrastination, avoiding confrontation, a short attention span, perfectionism, tactless remarks, weak resolve, overreacting, criticizing, chasing the wrong gratifications, or not following though. This important book is filled with lessons for leaders on resolving the inner struggle between impulse and self-discipline, between blind reaction and big picture wisdom. Dozens of proven exercises will empower you to direct yourself and others more productively. With a little practice, your inner executive will learn to choose correctactions rather than let your unwantedbehaviors have their way.

Through compelling real-life coaching examples of dramatic personal changes, along with recent findings in psychology, management, neuroscience, and Eastern spirituality, Richard Daft provides guidance to all of us who want to follow our best intentions when leading ourselves and others.


More About the Author

Richard L. Daft, Ph.D., is the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr., Professor of Management in the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University where he specializes in the study of leadership and organization theory. Dr. Daft is a Fellow of the Academy of Management and has served on the editorial boards of Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Journal of Management Education. He was the Associate Editor-in-Chief of Organization Science and associate editor of Administrative Science Quarterly.

Dr. Daft has authored or co-authored 13 books, including ORGANIZATION THEORY AND DESIGN and MANAGEMENT. He has also authored dozens of scholarly articles, papers, and chapters and has published in the Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management, Accounting Organizations and Society, Management Science, MIS Quarterly, and Organizational Behavior Teaching Review. Dr. Daft has received several government research grants in organization design, organizational innovation and change, strategy implementation, and organizational information processing.

An active teacher and respected consultant, Dr. Daft has served as associate dean and helped manage a start-up enterprise. He has been involved in management development and consulting for numerous organizations, including the American Banking Association, AutoZone, Nortel, Bridgestone, TVA, Pratt & Whitney, Allstate Insurance, State Farm Insurance, the United States Air Force, the U.S. Army, J. C. Bradford & Co., Central Parking System, USAA, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and many others.


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I found it to be insightful, and incredibly eye-opening.
Kate
Highly recommend this book to all who can benefit from improving their personal and professional relationships.
Anca
As we grow, we can learn to make decisions that will tame the inner elephant, and make us better people.
Robert Ewoldt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Ewoldt on May 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This was a fascinating book that I won in a contest on MichaelHyatt.com. Often, when Michael does a book review, he gives away copies of the book to the people who read his blog (another reason to read his blog). The book is a leadership book... but personal leadership, instead of managerial leadership. Leading yourself is the first step to leading others; if you're not good at leading yourself, you won't be good at leading others.

Basically, each person has two "natures" inside of them: one that wants to follow your own base instincts (the inner elephant), and one that makes rationale, reasoned decisions (the inner executive)-see Romans 7:14-25 for a biblical explanation. When we're born, all we do is follow the urges of the inner elephant. As we grow, we can learn to make decisions that will tame the inner elephant, and make us better people. We take hold of the things we should do, and we let our inner executive lead. But what are some concrete things we can do to tame the inner elephant, and let our inner executive take over? Here are a couple of things that I gleaned from this book:

Autosuggestion
We have different voices in our heads telling us different things. For many people, these voices are telling us negative, critical things: "I'm not good enough;" "I'm an inadequate leader;" "I spend too much time on the Internet;" "I'm not good enough for my job;" "I'm a bad father;" "I hate doing this." Richard Daft, the author of the book, suggests that one can replace those pre-suppositions about themselves by using something called autosuggestion. Basically, you intentionally replace those thoughts with what you want to be, and eventually what you say will be your first thought, instead of the negative thoughts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Speciale on January 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely helpful guide for leaders at all levels in the organization as well as for people in all walks of life. i have re-read several sections because they resounded with me in my situations at work or in my personal life. Dick Daft gives excellent examples and easy exercises to change the way you tackle negative thoughts and procrastination. He gives you a recipe to succeed and achieve goals using visualization and positive self-talk. A great book to pick up over and over for different needs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Beau on July 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is a refreshing analysis for the "executive" in all of us. Dick Daft has thoroughly explored the etiologies of behavior that lead to self-imposed underperformance and then provided tangible advice to prod our "inner elephant" from impeding success and happiness. His anecdotes were very surreal for me. I highly recommend this book to the executive or non-executive who knows that they can perform better, who seeks tools for improved self-awareness, and is committed to a strategy for sustained personal excellence.
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Format: Hardcover
I had the pleasure of reading "The Executive and The Elephant" while studying for my MBA. I am no stranger to the business-self improvement section of the bookstore, and I would have to rank Daft's guide up there with the classic "7 Habits of Highly..." and "How to Win Friends and Influence People". The subject in the book is very understandable and relateable... we all have an inward-focused and spontaneous side (our elephant) and a outward-focused rational side (our executive). As we make decisions, we have to be careful to think with our executive side, even with our thoughts charging like a 10-ton elephant.

What I like best about this book is that it is not bogged down with long repetitive examples, as are many other books of this nature. I have put down many a book because the stories just repeat and dilute the content. Instead, Daft takes a more progressive approach and guides us through tasks that we can do in order to train our inner executive. We learn how to recognize and separate both sides, how to engage our executive, and how to silence the elephant when it pops up. Each chapter walks us through different steps we can take to accomplish this, giving detailed lists of the steps to take.

I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants to improve their interpersonal skills and how they work in groups and organizations. If you are looking for a good self-improvement or how-to-succeed-in-business-type read, this book is perfect.
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Format: Hardcover
I have just completed my first reading of Richard L. Daft's book, The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Building Inner Excellence. He had me hooked on page five where the heading is "The Conflict Between Knowing and Doing." I've struggled with this dichotomy all my life.

It amazed me that he had crawled into my head and knew all about me. Then I realized it wasn't just me. Everyone has these internal conflicts. After defining the problems, this book gives the reader several methods of overcoming these ubiquitous internal obstacles. While I devoured this book in about ten days - it does require some thinking on the part of the reader - I will use it for years in my effort to overcome my internal obstacles. I can see it giving me motive power where before I had been becalmed. This is a voyage of self-discovery and self-mastery. I fully intend to enjoy the trip as much as the destination.

Please don't let the subtitle, A Leader's Guide for Building Inner Excellence, intimidate you. Whether you are a leader in a local area, a world-wide leader, or just the leader of yourself, this book has many valuable insights for you. On page 90, he quotes Lao-Tzu: "He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty."

Because I wish to become self-controlled, I will be practicing these principles for years to come. Thank you, Richard Daft, for this insight into self-mastery.
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