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The Leaders We Need: And What Makes Us Follow Hardcover – October 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In an unusual take on America's leadership crisis, Maccoby calls for a new kind of leader: collaborators rather than stern bureaucrats, who are able to attract a new kind of follower. For workers in the information economy who are skeptical of father figures, psychoanalyst Maccoby (Narcissistic Leaders) advocates relationships to bosses that are less parental and more siblinglike. Exploring why people follow different leaders in different times and circumstances, he rests his analysis on Freud's concept of unconscious transference. Though Maccoby's language is straightforward, skeptics will question the book's emphasis on personality: today's workers seem too detached to see their bosses and CEOs as siblings, much less parental figures. The author moves from theory to practice in calling for exceptional leaders to find new sources of clean energy, quality education and universal health care. In a detailed, hands-on chapter, Maccoby brings together leadership, personality types and organizational design to describe how a premier health-care organization should function. But it's his chapter on the president we need—examining personality types and managing styles—that will draw attention. Maccoby makes no endorsement for 2008, but he lays out the flaws of the current president, who, he writes, has taken big gambles without fully understanding the odds or the consequences of failure. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Times - and people - have changed. Leaders urgently need to come to terms with that fact. --The Financial Times, December 6, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (October 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422101665
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422101667
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Maccoby is a globally recognized expert on leadership who for 40 years has advised global leaders in businesses, governments, unions, universities and non profit organizations in 36 countries. He is president of the Maccoby Group in Washington, D.C. which offers consulting, coaching, research and leadership workshops. He has a BA and PhD from Harvard University, where he directed the Program on Technology, Public Policy and Human Development from 1970-90. He graduated from The Mexican Institute of Psychoanalysis where he studied under Erich Fromm and with him wrote Social Character in Mexican Village. He is author of The Gamesman, The Leader, Sweden at the Edge, Why Work?, Narcissistic Leaders and The Leaders We Need and lead author of Transforming Health Care Leadership. In appreciation of his work in Sweden, he was made Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star. He is a fellow of the American Psychological and Anthropological Associations and the National Academy of Public Administration. He has taught leadership at Oxford University's Saïd School of Business for twelve years.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Richard Margolies on December 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
We need Michael Maccoby's insights about leaders and our world today to follow or become The Leaders We Need. People don't want to be managed by autocratic father figures, though they will follow and better yet, collaborate with, the right kind of leader. This book is trenchant and practical.

Disclaimer: Michael Maccoby and I have worked together for 35 years. For some this might imply a lack of objectivity. For others, this qualifies a reviewer who knows his subject. You are free to make up your own mind.

Dr. Maccoby's insights are based on over 45 years of research (for example, with Erich Fromm in Mexico), teaching (Harvard, Chicago, Oxford, the Brookings Institution), consulting (IBM, AT&T, World Bank, ABB, etc.), and writing. He facilitated a national health care coalition, and directed a foundation-funded research project on exemplary health care systems. He advises diverse leaders and organizations, being trusted by both corporate and union leaders. He is a fellow of the American Psychological and Anthropological Associations, a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and anthropologist.

The Leaders We Need And What Makes Us Follow provides many examples of leaders and their organizations from this rich body of work. It is his most comprehensive book, giving readers the fruits of his productive lifetime in what might be called a grand integrated theory. His wisdom is useful for those who would lead in any way or at any level of an organization, or for understanding leaders we may choose to follow.

He raises the question why none of the existing authors on leadership give a convincing definition of leadership. Many describe leadership traits, others define their ideal leader.
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Format: Hardcover
Anthropologist and psychoanalyst Michael Maccoby has been writing about leadership for more than three decades. Here he ventures an argument with an unusual perspective for managerial literature. His fundamental thesis is that changing times demand a leadership model that leaves the industrial, bureaucratic era behind. He explains that new family structures and contemporary ways of working - especially knowledge work - have created a different kind of follower. Maccoby calls these workers "Interactives" and explains their demands in psychological terms. His emphasis on "Personality Intelligence," collaboration and teamwork is not really new, but his explanation of why these factors matter and what impact they have upon public policy is striking. We find his willingness to tackle big leadership challenges - health-care policy, education and even the U.S. presidency - fresh and thought-provoking.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Douglas A. Wilson on December 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading Maccoby's work for years. He is very thoughtful in his approach and willing to call life as he sees it through a trained lense of keen observation. I find the book refreshing because he looks at leadership from a much richer and deeper perspective than most other writers on the subject. For instance, his work on narcissistic leadership challenges many of the cherished notions held by Jim Collins and others. I get tired of those who extol "goodie goodie" leaders as the norm. Maccoby helped me understand the different leadership types who are out there and how I need to think both about those I want to follow and about those I hope will follow yours truly.

If you want a five step approach, then the book is not for you. If you want to be challenged to think and evaluate both yourself and your own organization, then I think you will really enjoy the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Those who have read Michael Maccoby's previously published Narcissistic Leaders already know that he has formulated a number of unconventional opinions about effective leadership. That soon becomes obvious in this book as he explains in the Introduction that his approach to the study of leadership "is shaped by my academic training and professional experience as a psychoanalyst and anthropologist for over thirty-five years has studied and counseled leaders in business, government, universities, and unions. As an anthropologist, I view leadership within a cultural context, a system that weaves together modes of work, political institutions, family structure, and values. And as a psychoanalyst, I focus on the way personality determines how we relate to others, especially at work." Therefore, Michael Maccoby's focus is on what he characterizes as "Personality Intelligence," (i.e. the ability to understand people).

Although he does not agree with all of Sigmund Freud's theories, "I do make extensive use [in this book] of his concept of unconscious transference, and I build on his theory of personality types. Transference helps to explain why people sometimes idealize leaders, projecting onto them comforting childhood images of protective parents. And it also explains why they sometimes turn against these leaders, seeing them as inept or neglectful parents." These brief excerpts, I hope, indicate Michael Maccoby's specific approach as he explains who "the leaders we need" are, and, "what makes us follow them."

What are their dominant characteristics? According to Maccoby, the leaders needed "in these tumultuous times" possess a combination of leadership types: transformational visionaries, operational obsessives, and trust-creating bridge- builders.
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