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The Taboos of Leadership. The 10 Secrets No One Will Tell You About Leaders and What They Really Think. J-B US non-Franchise Leadership
John Wiley and Sons Ltd, May 2007, Pages: 192
Most leaders who make it to the top possess characteristics that are all too human: they have politically incorrect attitudes, are conflicted, and play politics to get their way. Written by leading management consultant Anthony F. Smith, The Taboos of Leadership reveals the rarely discussed realities of leadership—the secrets that leaders just cannot admit to publicly for fear of losing power, self-respect, or even their jobs. This revelatory book will help both leaders and followers achieve real understanding and co-create a two-way street culture of openness, trust, and improved performance in their organizations.
The Taboos of Leadership discloses ten guarded secrets that leaders can’t discuss, even with their closest constituents, including: charisma shouldn’t make a difference . . . but it does; women make better leaders . . . when that’s what they really want to do; blatant self-interest is dangerous . . . in followers, not leaders; thou shalt not play favorites with friends and family . . . except when it makes a lot of sense; and more.
Foreword by Steven M. Bornstein.
PART ONE: Introducing the Taboos.
1 Taboos and Leadership.
2 Secret 1:We Know What Leadership Looks Like (But We Don’t Know What It Takes).
PART TWO: Taboos of Persuasion.
3 Secret 2: Charisma Shouldn’t Make a Difference (But It Does).
4 Secret 3: Real Leaders Don’t Play Politics (They Take It Very Seriously).
5 Secret 4:Women Make Better Leaders (When That’s What They Really Want to Do).
PART THREE: Taboos of Position.
6 Secret 5:The Double Standard Is for Cavemen (and the Corner Office).
7 Secret 6:Thou Shalt Not Play Favorites with Friends and Family (Except When It Makes a Lot of Sense).
8 Secret 7: A Leader’s Fundamental Duty Is to Groom a Successor (But It Hurts Like Hell).
PART FOUR: Taboos of the Person.
9 Secret 8: Leaders Need to Demonstrate Work-Life Balance (No Problem;Work Is Their Life).
10 Secret 9: Blatant Self-Interest Is Dangerous (in Followers, Not Leaders).
11 Secret 10: It’s Lonely at the Top (But Leaders Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way).
12 Our Taboos Are Exposed, So Now What?
About the Author.
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 act[s]." 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.(May) (PublishersWeekly.com)
"... a useful call for leadership advocates to balance their natural optimism with realism." (Harvard Business Review, May 29, 2007)