From Publishers Weekly
In this emperor-has-no-clothes exposé, Smith attempts to get into the heads of the powerful, reveal what goes on there and develop strategies for the inferiors who must cope with them. The managing director of the Leadership Research Institute, Smith dissects various leadership qualities-looking at heads of business, the military and politics, among others-as well as the way they're perceived by followers, employees and the general public. The innate hypocrisy of the human drive to power-"leadership is rooted in the urges of blatant self-interest"-creates a tension between leaders' public and private feelings; Smith posits that, though leaders' responsibility is to the team, they must protect their own power with "tough, hard, ruthless, and overtly political acts." This results, all too often, in "taboos" such as double standards, isolation and favoritism, all of which underlings find difficult, if not impossible, to address openly. The topics considered are many, including the difference charisma makes, the effect of gender, the successor-grooming game and the pursuit of a balanced lifestyle; the message, ultimately, is to speak up and look out.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Consultant Smith sets out to provide a description of what it takes to be a leader by focusing on taboos or certain prohibitions in corporate life that render them untouchable. In providing a frame of reference for understanding and recognizing these taboos, he says, "If taboos are holding our organizations and leaders down, they should be pruned back or weeded out, allowing our organizations and leaders to grow." He identifies 10 secrets or taboos of leadership including the importance of charisma; self-interest is blatant in leaders but dangerous for followers; while many women don't really want leadership and the sacrifice it requires, when they do they are better leaders than men; few understand that grooming a successor "hurts like hell"; few leaders have balance in their life since their work is their life, and hence those seeking balance may limit their opportunities for leadership. This thought-provoking book may promote conversation among leaders, but it is unknown how much discussion will include followers. Mary WhaleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved