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Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box Paperback – January 5, 2010
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Leadership and Self-Deception uses an entertaining story about an executive facing challenges at work and at home to expose the precise psychological processes that conceal our true motivations and intentions from us and trap us in a “box” of endless self-justification. Most importantly, the book shows us the way out. The book’s central insight—that the key to leadership lays not in what we do, but in who we are—has proved to have powerful resonances not only for organizational leadership, but in readers’ personal lives as well.
This new edition has been revised throughout to make the story more readable and compelling. And drawing on the extensive correspondence they’re received over the years the authors have added a section that outlines the many ways that readers have been using this book.
Top customer reviews
* This is a simple story, with a logical message. Yet, the story nicely explains that we all often fail to see that we have a problem. We do engage in self-deception. We do "unwittingly sabotage relationships at work and at home." And our actions do provoke a response that encourages the opposite of our intention.
* Part I explains "Self-Deception and the Box." Part II explains "How We Get In the Box." Part III explains "How We Get Out of the Box." Being "In the box" is seeing others as objects. "Out of the Box" is seeing yourself and others as people. (They make this come alive in the book.)
* As I was reading the book, particularly Part I and Part II, I was impressed at how they framed the narrative and discussion to make me realize how I've been deceiving myself. Several "AHA" moments here. Rather than give too much of the story line away - they use a simple example of a Business Executive sleeping and then hearing his infant crying - he knows that he should get up to help his spouse - he doesn't - he then justifies not getting up by mentally elevating his importance (he needs to get up early in the morning; he's the main bread winner; he's a good dad; he's the victim) while he mentally frames up his spouse who isn't getting up as being lazy, unappreciative, inconsiderate, etc. He elevates his own importance over his wife; he rationalizes why he is justified in not getting up to help the baby; he gets angry and this ultimately leads to a response which is opposite to what he was looking for. Even though no words are spoken.
* The "answer" will not be found in a new leadership strategy. It will not be found in developing a new communication skill or changing your behavior. It will not be found in trying to change someone to your way of thinking. The answer is changing "your way of being."
* I'm not a fan of parables because I have often found this format either too contrived or generally not relevant to me. Yet, I believe this story, the message and the anecdotes are universally applicable and true and will resonate with many readers.
* The < 200 page book is a quick and easy read. It should take you less than 3 hours.
* While the book is framed in a business context, it will benefit all readers: leaders, non-leaders, professionals and individuals in for-profits and non-for-profits.
* Any cons? I have two "nits." (1) You reach the end of the book to learn that Part II (Accountability Transformation System) and Part III (Monitoring System) are not discussed or included in the book and you would need to enroll in Arbinger's seminars to learn this. This was a bit deceptive and unnecessary in my opinion as the core message in the book remains powerful. They should have stripped these references from the story and included it in the appendix. (2) Later editions of the book were revised to include a section on "How to Use Leadership and Self-Deception" including hiring, team building, conflict resolution, accountability and personal growth and development. This section added very little utility - but again, it does not detract from the value of the book.
* So many self-help books leave no lasting value or impression - you get a quick high (if you are lucky) and the message evaporates. Not this one. This one will stick. Highly recommended.
One response to reading this book is to get those people around you to read the book also, which could very well be detrimental if not pursued with the right spirit and motive.
A simply written book with the possibility of making a huge impact.