Take a look at the U.S. Presidential race, the naked graft and corruption of the Brazilian government (among many others), or the state of leadership in corporate America—there seems to be a huge disconnect between our idealized notions of the “servant leader” and the cold, harsh facts of leadership in the real world.
Basically, you should question everything gurus tell you about leadership; you should take a look at the data-based evidence and make your own judgments, and you should take care of yourself (because no one else is going to).
That, in a nutshell, is the thesis of Leadership BS: Saving Workplaces and Careers One Truth at A Time by Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer.
Prof. Pfeffer studies and teaches power and organizational behavior at Stanford Business School and in his latest book he doesn’t pull any punches in attacking the burgeoning “leadership industry” for what he calls its “failure” to produce better leaders and improve the often “horrible” environments at many workplaces.
Leadership BS is insightful and provocative, but it’s also more than a little discomfiting for those poor souls in the “leadership industry” whom he takes to the woodshed for their alleged ignorance, excessive idealism, and fallacious advice.
Leadership Quackery is what Pfeffer might call it in a moment of modesty.
Leadership Bullsh*t is what he actually calls it on the cover of his new book.
The heavy-handed and perhaps unfair critique of the leadership industry not withstanding, the result is a thought-provoking and engaging book that anyone who works, leaders and non-leaders alike, needs to read.
But be forewarned, Prof. Pfeffer’s work is not always cheery nor palatable, and some have even called it cynical and Machiavellian. He calls it data-driven and sober—a clear-eyed description of reality. This is leadership as it exists, he claims, not as we would idealistically wish it could be.
Whether you agree or disagree with his analysis, the book contains many insights that you can use in your own career and in your every day dealings at work, or as you develop your own theories about how leadership works in the real world and how you can be an effective leader inside your organization.
Here are the 6 leadership myths that Prof. Pfeffer seeks to disabuse us of through his latest book: