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Leadership and Self-Deception

April 19, 2014

One of the popular formats for leadership books is that of “a parable”. A story where the hero learns, experiences, and reflects upon a specific series of lessons on personal growth and leadership development. This book (Leadership and Self Deception, Berrelt-Koehler Publishers, 2002) by the Arbinger Institute fits this profile. The hero presented in the first person (Tom) meets Bud, Lou and Kate who instruct him about the dangers of self deception which is defined  as “blinding us to the true cause of problems, and once blind all the solutions we can think of will make matters worse.” (viii) The story reads easily while providing insight about what it means to be in the box (chapters 1-8) How we got into the box (chapters 9-16) and How yo get out of the box 17-24). The book provides 3 main points of value; 1) it provides vocabulary (like the “box” and “self-betrayal”) that have become part of the on going leadership discussion along with the definition and illustrations of the ideas behind the words. 2) the illustration of the main ideas in a marriage/family illustration is crystal clear and a powerful story useful in many teaching contexts (Chapter 11 P. 64). 3) Diagrams and hand drawn pictures are simple, helpful, and easy to reproduce as you teach others (P.94-95, 109).The books 168 pages will repay your investment of time and energy to slowly read reflect and apply this book. It would make a great spring/summer leadership read!       

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